May 19, 2011
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says police have arrested a Revere man who allegedly sold millions of dollars in fake MBTA passes. Investigators are calling it the largest fraud of its kind in MBTA history.
Coakley says the suspect worked for a company that makes monthly passes for the MBTA. 27-year-old Andres Townes allegedly gained access to the machines and printed thousands of passes that he never registered with the MBTA.
Coakley says He then sold them at a discount on Craigslist and other websites, and made millions of dollars.
“He was able to sell over a period we believe going back to 2007 up to 20 thousand of these passes for millions of dollars. In March alone, the MBTA has traced at least 400 of these passes, the face value of which would have been 70,000.”
Coakley says the fake passes looked 100% authentic.
"The serial numbers, the graphics used, they were like the best counterfeit money you could have. They legitimately were T passes, they were just unauthorized.”
The suspect was finally caught because one of his customers accidentally put his pass through the laundry, so the coloring was slightly off. When a rail conductor noticed the discrepancy, he confiscated the pass and turned it over to the Transit police. And it happened to be one of the conterfeit passes. The police soon discovered hundreds of similar passes in use by passengers.
The T's general manager says the MBTA is ending its contract with the company where Townes worked, and the state is seeking reimbursement.