March 2012: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Florida’s Attorney General have stopped the operators of an alleged vacation fraud scheme from doing business. According to a release from Attorney General Pam Bondi, the companies told people they could win a vacation prize worth thousands of dollars if they called a toll-free phone number and answered a trivia question. Callers were allegedly told they had won, and then asked to pay $400 upfront in “taxes” or “fees” if they wanted the prize – but after paying, that dream vacation never materialized.
The travel companies mainly targeted Spanish-speaking tourists. The FTC and the Florida Attorney General’s Office charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Consent orders don’t constitute an admission by defendants that the law has been violated, but they have the force of law once approved and signed by a District Court judge.
The defendants named by the Florida Attorney General are “VGC Corporation of America, also doing business as All Dream(s) Vacations, All Dreams Travel, Five Star(s) Vacations, 5 Star(s) Vacations, Total Tours, and Travel & Tours Corp.; All Dream Vacations Corp., also doing business as All Dreams Vacations; Violeta Gonzalez, also known as Violeta Rojas; Cesar A. Gonzalez; and Samir Jose Saer Rodriguez, also known as Samir Saer.”
The FTC has a webpage, Telemarketing Travel Fraud, with more information on travel scams with contact information. Anyone who thinks they were scammed can also call the FTC at (877) FTC-HELP.