WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – A manager at a Chicago travel agency has been charged with “illegally reaping” more than 42 million Delta Air Lines miles worth more than $1.75 million (S$2.4 million) by registering customers as employees on the airline’s business rewards programme.

The US Justice Department said on Friday (Sept 13) that Gennady Podolsky, a Ukrainian and American citizen and managing partner and travel agent at Vega International Travel Services Inc, was charged with 12 counts of wire fraud on Wednesday (Sept 11).

Seth Kirschenbaum, an attorney representing Podolsky, said in a statement his client’s conduct with Delta’s loyalty programme was “not fraudulent” and that allegations that the conduct was illegal are “simply wrong”.

Podolsky registered clients as employees on Delta’s SkyBonus programme, which provides rewards to businesses when their employees travel, to earn miles off the flights he booked for them, the Justice Department statement said.

A Delta spokesman said the company is “happy to see any kind of fraud indicted” and will work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department to ensure the case is”prosecuted to its fullest extent”.