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NJ Suing Travel Firms Over Vacation Scam

Two former Bloomfield-based travel companies and the brothers who owned and operated them are being sued by New Jersey. Acting State Attorney General John Hoffman and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have filed the suit. The defendants are accused of accepting payments totaling $1,033,245.39 from 230 customers, then failing to deliver the overseas travel arrangements that the customers paid for in advance.

Things got bad for some travelers. When Crown Travel Services Inc., also known as Club ABC Tours, and affiliated company ABC Destinations LLC, abruptly ceased operations on Oct. 1, 2012, some customers were literally stranded in Europe.

The defendants failed to pay for the lodging and other accommodations for which they had pre-paid hundreds or thousands of dollars. The customers did not find that out until after arrived at hotels in Rome. That’s also when they found out that the travel insurance they had paid for would not cover the losses.

“The two brothers who owned and operated these travel companies allegedly kept their business afloat by using money from new customers, to pay for trips booked by previous customers. When this scheme inevitably fell apart, hundreds of customers lost more than $1 million,” said Hoffman. “These victims deserve protection.

The brothers charged in the case are Robert Paris of Greenwich, Conn. and Thomas Paris of New York. The state alleges that, for years, the Paris brothers allegedly kept the businesses functioning by accepting payment for travel packages that were to occur in the future, but applying those payments to travel packages that had previously been booked, or had already taken place. It is alleged that they were essentially running a travel agent Ponzi scheme.

State Senate Republican Whip Kevin O’Toole called for action to be taken in October.

“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 taking appropriate action,” said O’Toole. “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, but after this state investigation, we know the extent and magnitude of this case is much worse.”

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