A Revere man who worked for an MBTA pass subcontractor was arrested today on charges he used pass equipment to print up commuter-rail and subway passes he'd sell for a discount on Craigslist.
Andres Townes, 27, will be arraigned tomorrow on charges of larceny over $250 and conspiracy to commit larceny over $250.
Townes worked for Cubic Transportation Systems of Beverly, which handled online and telephone sales of the passes. Attorney General Martha Coakley said there is no evidence that anybody else at the company participated in the scheme, which allegedly began in 2007. Coakley said this is the largest fraud case in the history of the MBTA.
However, MBTA General Manager Richard Davey said the T today began to sever its contract with Cubic, and will insist the company reimburse the T for all the lost sales - as soon as state investigators determine exactly how much that is. Coakley said that just last month, Townes allegedly sold 400 passes worth $235 apiece. She estimated that since 2007, Townes has made upwards of 20,000 of the "ghost" passes.
Coakley and MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan said the scheme unraveled when the conductor on an unidentified commuter-rail line was handed a disccolored pass on March 11 The rider said he'd accidentally put it through the wash, but the conductor didn't fully buy that and turned the pass in. Coakley said that while the pass was authentic looking - having been printed on the same machine as actual passes - its ID number didn't match up with anything in the T's pass database.
Investigators traced the bogus ticket to Cubic, where they found Townes, a long-time "fulfillment management" with access to the secure room containing the machine used to print actual passes.
On his Facebook page, Townes described his Cubic job:
I put stuff in envelopes and mail them.
Coakley and T officials said riders need to be wary of any discount pass offers; the T itself never offers a discount. Coakley said that because Craigslist acted as "a billboard," it is not liable for any of the losses incurred by the T. She added that "it's not unlikely" there will be future attempts to defraud the T.
Although Cubic was responsible for the bulk of T-pass sales, Davey said the authority will begin audits of sales at the 170 retail outlets - such as convenience stores - that now also sell T passes.