Consumers Who Paid for 'Free' Vacation Offers to Get Refunds
North Carolina consumers who were misled into paying deposits for supposedly free vacations will be able to get their money back, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Monday.
"Using the promise of a free vacation to lure people and then making it nearly impossible to actually book it is wrong," Cooper said. "Consumers who lost money to this scheme will now be able to get it back."
Under a consent judgment, Millennium Travel and Promotions, Inc. and its owners Karen E. Armand, Tony J. Armand and Henry J. Armand are barred from engaging in any travel related business in North Carolina for the next ten years. The Florida-based defendants will pay approximately $21,000 in restitution to around 200 consumers and $10,000 to the NC Department of Justice.
As alleged in Cooper's complaint, Millennium sold travel certificates that promised a free cruise or roundtrip airlines tickets and that were used to entice people to attend a high-pressure sales pitch for a travel club, A-2-Z Vacations.
After attending the presentation, consumers received a vacation certificate provided by Millennium for "free" travel but were required to pay a $100 deposit upfront. According to consumers who complained, the trip was practically impossible to redeem, with so many blackout dates that consumers were left with few if any dates to travel.
The North Carolina Attorney General's case against the other travel groups named in the lawsuit, East Coast Travel, A-2-Z Vacations and Smart Travel & Incentives, is still moving forward.
Cooper filed suit against Millennium and its partners this summer as part of an international sweep coordinated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which included 190 actions taken by 28 states and eight other countries. The joint effort was designed to warn travel businesses to follow the law and educate consumers about how to avoid travel scams.