20-Year Fugitive Made US$10 Million In Bogus Travel Purchases

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

A man who escaped to Mexico in the 1990s to avoid sentencing in a New York credit card fraud case spent the next 20 years as a fugitive, but found a profitable sideline in making nearly US$10 million in fraudulent credit card purchases, most of them international airline tickets.

Associated Press reports that Nicolas Frank Sucich, 48, likely faces more than four years in federal prison under a plea agreement on charges of wire and access device fraud.

Federal prosecutors say Sucich set up a business called FCO Travels in Mexico. Through that business, he used a fraudulent Scotiabank MasterCard account to buy millions of dollars’ worth of airline tickets from a legitimate Pittsburgh-area travel agency, then re-sold the tickets for cash at discounted rates to travellers, among other schemes.

Sucich and his co-defendant and former lover, Jimmy Lee Johnson, a petty criminal with a history of crack cocaine abuse and prostitution, worked the scheme while living together in

Mexico. Johnson pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to two years of time served.

Sucich had been convicted in an unrelated credit card fraud in Duchess County, New York in 1996 and was awaiting sentencing there when he fled to Mexico.

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