Travel Agent Fraudulently Sold Cruise Vouchers

THREE 100 DOLLAR ROLLSFraud and related scams cost Americans around $1.6 billion dollars last year. In 2013, there were in excess of two millions reported cases of fraud. Fraud is also common in Florida. Per the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), Florida leads the nation with around 1,000 total complaints per 100,000 people.

Recently, detectives of the Economic Crimes Unit arrested a travel agent, Janet Bender, for seven counts of grand theft. She allegedly sold fraudulent cruise vouchers to customers. Said customers first reported the fraudulent activity in March of 2016. The customers bought their vouchers for a cruise with a stateroom. They paid between $200 and $500 for each voucher. Bender’s customers were requested to pay for the fraudulent vouchers with cash or checks. The customers would then attempt to use their vouchers only to discover that Bender never scheduled their vacations.  Bender was arrested at her home and charged with seven counts of grand theft. To date, detectives have identified more than nine victims.

If you, or a loved one, are a victim of a crime in Florida, or on a cruise ship, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney for your case. The Miami lawyers at Gerson and Schwartz, PA have the experience and skill needed for your case. Contact our attorneys today at 305-371-6000 or via email at info@gslawusa.com to schedule a FREE consultation.  

Florida’s Grand Theft Law

In Florida, the term “theft” is used to describe a number of property crimes. These include, but are not limited to, larceny, misappropriation and other offenses. Theft, by definition, is the unauthorized taking or use of property belonging to someone else. When a person is charged with a theft offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of the crime. In particular, the prosecutor in the case must establish the defendant’s specific intent to take or use property of another person. For this, the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to either temporarily or permanently deprive the property owner of possession or use of his or her property. Said criminal intent must have been present at the exact time of the taking or attempted taking of one’s property.

Florida law recognizes petit theft and grand theft. The degree, or type, of theft ultimately depends on the value of the property taken. Per Florida law, if the property taken is valued between $300 and $20,000, this qualifies as grand theft in the third degree. If the property taken is valued between $20,000 and $100,000, this qualifies as grand theft in the second degree.  Finally, if the property taken is valued between over $100,000 this qualifies as grand theft in the first degree. Florida law also allows the prosecution of grand theft in the first degree when defendant causes more than $1,000 in property damage while carrying out the theft.  Additionally, a theft is required to be prosecuted as grand theft in the first degree when the crime involves defendant using a motor vehicle as an instrument during the commission of the crime, for a particular purpose other than using the motor vehicle as a getaway car.          

As with other criminal offenses, Florida recognizes several defenses to the crime of grand theft.  For one, if the defendant possessed a good faith belief that he or she was the owner, or had the right to possess, the property taken, that may be a defense. Second, if the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated before the taking, that may be a defense. This would destroy the specific intent element of the theft. Third, a powerful defense is when the defendant can claim that the property owner consented to him or her acquiring the property.

Hire an Attorney for Your Case

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crime in Florida, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney. The Miami lawyers at Gerson and Schwartz, PA have the skill and experience needed for your case. We are available at 1-877-475-2905 and/or at info@gslawusa.com. We will listen carefully to you talk to us about your loss. You will not owe any attorney’s fees unless we collect money on your behalf.

 

(photo courtesy of Dodgerton Skillhaus)

badges