The United Airlines financial skies are a little less friendly after the airline agreed to pay more than $49 million in penalties because it defrauded the United States Postal Service.
As if the USPS hasn’t had enough problems.
On Friday, the Justice Department announced a non-prosecution agreement with United, which has agreed to pay $17 million in criminal penalties – and an additional $32 million as part of the settlement of a separate civil complaint.
The airline also will return funds received via fraud scheme carried out by former employees of its Cargo Division.
The fraud served to further damage the USPS, which lost $69 billion from 2007-18.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid said that United “defrauded the U.S. Postal Service by providing falsified parcel delivery information over a period of years and accepting millions of dollars of payments to which the company was not entitled.”
From 2012-15, Politico reports, United “submitted false delivery scan data, which it owed USPS as part of its contract both when the airline took possession of the mail receptacles and when they delivered them.”
United was submitting scans not based on actual pickup/delivery times but rather “based on aspirational delivery times” for pickup/delivery United deemed would result in the ability to gain increased compensation.
“Through this data automation scheme, United secured millions of dollars in payments from the USPS to which United was not entitled under the (International Commercial Air) contracts,” the Justice Department said.
United employees “knew that the data being transmitted was fabricated” and “that the transmission of false data violated the terms of the ICAIR contracts.