Maryland Travel Agent Scams 3,000 From Customers

Maryland Travel Agent Scams $433,000 From Customers

Maryland Travel Agent Scams 3,000 From Customers

A Maryland based mostly journey agent will probably be serving three years in jail and pay near $433,000 in reimbursements for fraud dedicated to her prospects.

In 2019, prospects bought “discounted” cruise packages from Diana Hopkins of Hopkins Travel Services based mostly in Florida. Instead, Hopkins was utilizing the funds to cowl the journeys of different prospects. Hopkins pleaded responsible to the accusations and acknowledged greed did not gas her actions, it was points along with her playing habit.

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“I imagine in my coronary heart, and I’ve represented many individuals accused of white-collar prison fraud, that Ms. Hopkins dedicated of this crime on account of a playing habit,” Mark O’Brien, who spoke with WFTS Tampa following her sentencing listening to on Monday.

Hopkins lawyer O’Brien requested she will get a lesser sentence after pleading responsible. He additionally informed the court docket Hopkins wants extra remedy for her habit and cares for 12 foster youngsters. “She is aware of that the people positioned belief in her as a journey agent and he or she violated that belief,” stated O’Brien.

The decide sentenced Hopkins to 37 months in federal jail and a restitution of $432,939. The State of Florida has additionally moved to launch the kids she has beneath her Foster Care. The State of Florida has additionally moved to launch the kids she has beneath her Foster Care.

“I need to see everybody that’s out of cash get their a reimbursement,” stated Karen Regan, a former buyer of Hopkins in 2019. At the time, Regan thought she had booked the cruise of her goals at a deal. “I had discovered about it via a pal of mine who went to highschool with Diana Hopkins and a bunch of their associates traveled along with her earlier than, no downside, so I trusted it,” Regan stated. Then Regan satisfied 60 of her associates from different elements of Maryland to cruise along with her in May of 2021. “We could not cross it up, it was low cost,” Regan stated.

Buy One Get One Free

But Hopkins marketed a phony “buy-one, get-one free” deal that by no means existed. After a federal investigation, prosecutors realized Hopkins was utilizing buyer bank cards to make the funds on different purchasers’ reservations. “She used individuals’s playing cards in all places,” Regan added.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

In 2019 WMAR-2 News uncovered Hopkins’ operation when prospects despatched Norwegian Cruise Line invoices to Mallory Sofastii, investigative reporter for Baltimore’s ABC 2 News. All their cruises had been canceled as soon as all events concerned suspected Hopkins of bank card fraud. There was one incident, Hopkins charged $2,300 for a visit, that truly price $7,000. Hopkins used 12 playing cards to make the funds and solely 3 of these bank cards belong to the precise buyer. “She was stealing from Peter to pay Paul and, sadly, it caught as much as her,” acknowledged O’Brien. Norwegian Cruise Line refunded Regan and her associates for the costs made by Hopkins.

Hopkins’ lawyer claims she has already reimbursed 91 out of the 320 prospects and seven company entities she scammed along with her journey company.

In Maryland, there is no license or certification required to be a journey agent, which is why it is vital for customers to analysis who they’re working with. A certification or license is just not required to grow to be a journey agent. Consumers ought to take the mandatory steps to analysis businesses providing “too good to be true” offers.

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