NY1 For You: Cousins Allege They Bought Fraudulent Plane Tickets From Travel Agent
A dream trip to Jamaica turned into a nightmare for two Bronx girls, who contacted NY1 For You. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following report.
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It was a once in a lifetime event: the 50th anniversary of Jamaica's independence. Cousins Kristen Walker and Tiah Clarke wanted to be there.
"It's my heritage and I just wanted to be a part of it and experience that," Walker said.
"Getting to be in the country and celebrating the 50th anniversary, we were really, really excited!" Clarke said.
It was excitement that turned to crushing disappointment when the cousin's wish didn't come true, even though they paid a travel agent nearly $1,000 in cash for plane tickets.
"We showed them our confirmation and they said we didn't have any tickets," Walker said.
Confused and upset, Walker and Clarke returned home at 4 a.m. only to go back to the airport the next day after the agent told them she re-booked their flight.
"When we got there, they said the reservation was canceled," Walker said.
The girls said they soon realized they weren't alone when they returned to the travel agency Celebration at Sea and found other angry customers in the same situation. Walker said the police were called and customers were sent home with a promise of a refund.
NY1 called Celebration at Sea and the owner told us the woman responsible for this mess is not an employee of his, although he was letting her use his store front to conduct her own business. He claimed he never received a penny from any business she conducted and was unaware of the fraudulent transactions taking place in his office. However, he said he realizes it's his ultimate responsibility and he wants to get everybody their money back. He claimed he's working on doing that.
After some research, NY1 found travel agencies in the city are not licensed and therefore not held accountable to any one agency. NY1 checked with the Better Business Bureau and found Celebration at Sea, also known as Contempo Tours, has an F rating.
According to the BBB, one of the best ways to avoid a situation like this is to pay by credit.
"If you're paying cash, the second you hand that cash over, it's gone," said Claire Rosenzweig, the president of BBB Metro NY.
It's hopefully not the case for the cousins. NY1 will keep you updated.