Former Bellevue travel agent stole $300k in money, miles from customers


Prosecutors said a former Bellevue travel agent who used her access to clients’ credit card numbers and mileage plan awards to steal cash, travel and tickets worth more than $300,000.

Karen Yeakel, 64, was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation Thursday after pleading guilty in January.

 According to records filed in the case, between 2005 and 2011, Yeakel used her close relationship with some of her clients to steal their money and their miles. 

 In some instances, Yeakel would use their credit card accounts to charge airplane tickets to Hawaii or Mexico and then would resell the tickets as travel vouchers at a discount to other clients, pocketing the cash. 

Court records showed that Yeakel put more than $180,000 in fraudulent charges on the clients’ credit cards and used clients’ travel miles to book her own travel or travel for her family members. 

Documents said Yeakel booked more than 152 flights for family members using other people’s frequent flyer miles. 

When clients wanted to use their miles, Yeakel claimed no mileage seats were available because she had drained the miles from the accounts.  The value of the miles is estimated at more than $132,000.

Yeakel was ordered to pay $339,242 to those she defrauded and to her employer, who spent thousands of dollars investigating the embezzlement.