United will pay $49 million to settle air mail fraud case

United Airlines will pay more than $49 million to avoid criminal prosecution and settle civil charges of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service in the delivery of international mail.

The Justice Department said Friday that former employees of United’s cargo division falsified parcel delivery information between 2012 and 2015. Prosecutors said that as a result, United collected millions of dollars in payments that it should not have received.

Chicago-based United agreed to pay nearly $17.3 million in criminal penalties and forfeited revenue to end the criminal investigation, and separately United will pay $32.2 million in related civil penalties, according to the Justice Department.

United did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

United and several other U.S. airlines trace their roots to air mail delivery contracts in the early part of the last century, and mail remains a source of revenue for them.

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