Woman allegedly uses airline mileage scheme to deceive others

Victims include 69-year-old woman suffering kidney cancer

A former employee of the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality allegedly deceived several people, including a 69-year-old woman who has kidney cancer, by encouraging them, through Facebook, to buy her airline mileage rewards points.

Mary Jane Tudela told Saipan Tribune yesterday that she paid $3,800 to Jenny Arriola Salas for two round-trip tickets and two one-way tickets to the U.S. mainland last March 9 for her and her husband and two other family members.

Tudela said until now Salas has failed to produce the tickets and that she just keeps on making promises to give back her money.

Aside from Tudela, Saipan Tribune learned that nine other persons have surfaced to claim that Salas also scammed them using the same modus operandi.

A check with Superior Court records indicate that two other persons filed small claims against Salas over the same modus. The claimants are Jennifer Taimanao and Diana Clayton.

Saipan Tribune tried to contact Salas for comment, but learned that she is no longer employed with BECQ.

Tudela said she is really hoping to get the plane tickets because she has kidney cancer and she wants to see her children in Tacoma, Washington.

She said she learned that Salas also scammed other persons using the same modus and that she is wondering why the Department of Public Safety has not acted on the complaints when some already filed a complaint.

She said she went to Salas’ house last week, where she met her husband, who told her to just come back today, Thursday.

Tudela said she’s trying to show good faith on the husband since it’s her first time to speak with him about this matter.

“I gave him my word. But come Thursday and nothing, then I’m going to the police,” she said.

Tudela said Salas made too many excuses and promises, but it’s already four months when she paid her.

She said she learned about Salas selling mileage points for plane tickets through a friend.

Tudela said for her $3,800 for the tickets for four persons was a good bargain so she immediately handed the money to Salas.

She said when she first learned about the mileage tickets for sale, she called the BECQ office several times to contact Salas, but she never answered the phone.

Tudela said when she sent text messages to Salas that she’s interested in buying her mileage points, in less than 15 minutes she called her back.

Jeaniffer Hiponia Cubangbang, a government employee, alleged that Salas and her husband Mario scammed her for $500 cash and made unauthorized transaction in her Bank of Guam account for over $2,000.

Cubangbang said she got hold of Salas when on Feb. 27, 2016 the Facebook account of a certain Quijano Del Jay posted mileage points equivalent to three round-trip tickets to the U.S. for sale for only $3,000.

The offer was posted on the Facebook page Saipan Buy/Sell/Swap.

Cubangbang said Salas convinced her about how good the deal was and that it was only for that day because she had to use her Chase points/United Airlines miles.

According to Salas she was helping her friend who needed money for medical purposes.

Cubangbang made the purchase. However, when days became weeks and when weeks became months with still no tickets from Salas, she asked for a refund of her money. But Salas would not want to meet and had many reasons or excuses.

She said Salas blamed United Airlines for changing rules, but when she inquired from United Airlines, they didn’t see any transaction.

“They have intentionally and purposely preyed, damaged, and hurt others for their hard-earned money. They deceived me. They manipulated me. They have stressed me and my family, and others in the community with their ill intentions and deeds. Justice needs to be served,” Cubangbang said.

A 47-year-old woman also filed a police complaint against Salas when the latter posted on Facebook if anyone is interested to buy her 35,000 airline rewards points for the U.S. in the amount of $750.

The woman filed a complaint of theft by deception before DPS last May 15. After numerous calls, meetings, and promises, Salas gave her back the money after a month. The complainant wants to pursue the case because of the emotional stress she suffered.

According to court records, Jennifer Taimanao filed a small claim against Salas in December 2014 to collect back her $1,640 that she paid her supposedly in exchange for mileage points for four round-trip tickets to the Philippines.

At a hearing on April 16, 2015, Salas failed to appear in court. This prompted Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio to issue a default judgment in favor of Taimanao in the amount of $1,670 plus 9 percent interest per annum.

Last June, Diana Clayton filed a small claim against Salas to get back the $2,150 she paid the defendant supposedly for airline mileage points.

At a hearing last Thursday, July 7, both Clayton and Salas did not appear. Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho took the case off-calendar.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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