Swindled customers of a Long Island City travel agency will receive refunds, thanks to a ruling from a Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said.
Justice Sherry Klein Heitler ordered officers of P.U. Travel, known to customers as Plus Ultra Tours, to repay the dozens of customers who paid them for airfare to Spain and Portugal and other services but never received the services, Spitzer said.
One customer traveled all the way to Spain before realizing that his return ticket, which had been purchased through Plus Ultra Tours, was not valid, state officials said.
The failure of this company to honor its commitments ruined many peoples plans, Spitzer said. The courts order provides restitution and establishes reform that will protect other consumers.
In December, after customers approached the attorney general with complaints against the agency, Spitzer filed a lawsuit alleging that Plus Ultra officers closed their business last June without notifying customers or offering refunds for pending services. Spitzer also said that Plus Ultra officers Robert Perez and Anicento Perez attempted to transfer money paid by those customers to various bank accounts in order to avoid refunding any fees.
In all, 81 consumers have filed complaints against the company and claim to have been defrauded, and Heitler recognized during the proceedings that records revealed at least 100 additional customers who may have been defrauded, according to a spokeswoman for the attorney generals office.
In addition to forcing the refunds, Heitler ordered another hearing to determine if Robert Perez and Anicento Perez will be personally responsible for damages caused to customers as a result of the agencys closing and to consider potential civil penalties, Spitzer said.
In a December investigation, Spitzers office uncovered $240,000 in Plus Ultra funds located in several bank accounts, he said. The attorney general obtained a restraining order to freeze the bank accounts and prevent any movement or withdrawal of the funds.
We expect all of the $240,000 will go to repaying the customers, attorney general spokeswoman Christine Pritchard said, adding that $100,000 found in Plus Ultra officers bank accounts has also been frozen and could potentially be used to help pay the refunds, given the judges approval.
All customers of the travel agency were asked to pay either with cash or check, denying clients the opportunity to seek refunds through their credit card companies, Pritchard said.
Reach Reporter Dan Trudeau by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2003 Community News Group
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