Purchasing a travel package is a risky thing due to the fraudulent tactics of some travel agencies and agents over recent years. A New Jersey couple has been charged with a crime for supposedly operating a number of scam travel agencies that offered people free airfares or cruises that were never delivered. They’re charged with running the phony offerings from Jan. 2007 to July 2011.
The 41-year-old man and the 43-year-old woman are from Marlton. The New Jersey Attorney General called them a couple of old school ‘con artists.’ He charges them with operating several different travel club agencies. They would close one down when they felt the heat, and then open a new one elsewhere in the state, he charged.
The accused man denied wrongdoing through his lawyer. The criminal charge alleged that the accused would get an up-front charge of $249 for port charges and fees when selling a ‘free’ cruise. However, the customers would then be unable to book the free passage. A free flight cost an up-front fee of $50 but again the customers were unable to book any such free flights.
They will have to make a criminal defense to the charges of theft by deception, money laundering and conspiracy. Authorities say that they stole over $700,000 from consumers. The Attorney General vowed that they will face enhanced prison sentences due to the large amount involved.
The man had settled his problems with the state in 2011 by agreeing to a civil settlement of $3 million in restitution and penalties. The settlement barred him from operating any vacation-club businesses in New Jersey for five years. However, it’s charged that he broke the deal by operating under a business owned by the woman. This led to the arrest.
In New Jersey, when charged with a crime involving fraud-related charges, the accused will need to spend appreciable time thoroughly going over the operations of the businesses with defense counsel. Only when the facts are reviewed and understood in detail can an evaluation of a complicated scenario like this be made. If the evidence turns out to be overwhelming, counsel will negotiate an agreement with the prosecution that will attempt to get the best deal possible under the circumstances.
Source: delawareonline.com, “NJ couple charged in vacation scams,” Jim Walsh, April 24, 2013