MBTA conductor honored for uncovering fare fraud scheme

Posted on December 15, 2011

Conductor John Slyman was honored for helping the MBTA uncover a multi-million dollar fare pass fraud ring.
Conductor John Slyman was honored for helping the MBTA uncover a multi-million dollar fare pass fraud ring.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan presented Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBCR) Conductor John Slyman with a commendation for recognizing and reporting a fraudulent commuter rail pass, which led to discovery of an alleged multi-million dollar fare theft ring. Slyman's judgment spurred an investigation that resulted in the indictment of four people who allegedly perpetrated the $4 million fraudulent fare scheme, the largest case of fare fraud in the history of the T.

Slyman is an eight-year veteran employee at MBCR.

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office began an investigation in March of the possible production and sale of illegal MBTA passes after Slyman noticed that a customer's monthly pass appeared to be the wrong color. After speaking with the customer, Slyman learned that the passenger bought that pass on Craigslist for a discounted rate. Knowing that the MBTA and MBCR do not sell passes through Craigslist, private individuals or at a discounted rate, Slyman notified his superior who brought the matter to the attention of MBTA Police.

The subsequent investigation by the authorities found that the pass Slyman singled out was authentic but that the MBTA database had no record of it being activated and had not received payment for it. MBTA then discovered that more than 400 of these fraudulent passes, worth more than $70,000, were being used by passengers in March and that the MBTA did not receive any revenue from the sale of the passes.

Last month, a statewide grand jury returned indictments against four individuals on charges that they illegally obtained and sold commuter rail passes, according to a statement from the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. The alleged scheme involved printing more than 20,000 MBTA passes at the facility of an independent vendor which handles the sale and fulfillment of MBTA passes purchased on-line and over the telephone, then advertising the passes for sale on Craigslist.

The alleged scheme, which began in 2007, involved manipulation of vendor equipment to produce authentic passes that were not recorded by the MBTA's central computer system as having been activated. Prosecutors allege the perpetrators produced more than 20,000 fraudulent passes that were worth millions of dollars. This included at least $2 million worth of passes that were intended for future use through November 2012.

Coakley's office reported that the defendants sold passes to customers in person or through the mail at a discount, and then used the proceeds from the scheme on houses, jewelry, cars and vacations. The stolen passes were valued up to $250 apiece.


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