Legal action originally encouraged by New Jersey State Senator Kevin O’Toole against a now-defunct Essex County travel agency, which baited hundreds of consumers to pay cash for nothing in return, has now resulted in a settlement that can provide restitution to local victims.
Approximately 250 consumers who paid for but did not receive all or part of the “all-inclusive” packages they ordered from Bloomfield-based Club ABC Tours are eligible for restitution, under a $644,000 settlement obtained by the Attorney General and state Division of Consumer Affairs. The State announced it would take action in this case after Senator O’Toole urged an investigation in October 2012.
“On behalf of my constituents and the victims of this disgusting scheme, I’d like to thank the state Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs for investigating this matter and obtaining a just outcome,” said O’Toole (R-Essex, Bergen, Morris, Passaic).
“After hearing horror stories from dozens of constituents who were defrauded and abandoned by Club ABC Tours, I initially said there was an appearance of conspiracy, consumer fraud and theft, and soon after we learned the extent and magnitude of this case was much worse. For people to spend significant amounts of their hard earned money on ‘trips of a lifetime’ only to arrive and learn they had been bamboozled was unconscionable.”
Authorities determined in part that the Bloomfield-based agency baited hundreds of customers into paying them cash for nothing and left their unsuspecting customers stranded in foreign countries without accommodations while also charging the same customers for travel insurance. Authorities revealed even more gross details of the travel agency’s failed scheme of taking money from new customers to pay for trips booked by past customers.
“These perpetrators went to great lengths to defraud unsuspecting consumers and put them in danger in foreign lands,” O’Toole concluded. “I’m proud that our state and its law enforcement agencies were able to act to get people their money back and that future potential victims have been spared.”