Ind. AG joins multinational crackdown on travel-related scams

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 12, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced several lawsuits against travel-related scams Tuesday as part of a joint multistate, multinational law enforcement initiative coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Zoeller announced lawsuits against Eastern Enterprises LLC and Simplicity Travel LLC, coinciding with the announcement of 191 actions to stop fraudulent timeshare property resale services and travel prizes.

The South Bend-based Eastern Enterprises timeshare resell company allegedly claimed to have buyers prepared to pay for consumers' timeshare properties. Zoeller's complaint alleges that the company entered into 14 contracts with out-of-state consumers, collecting an up-front fee of $1,985.

Payments of between $4,800 and $15,500 were also allegedly made by consumers to cover certain taxes or close the sale of the properties.

Eastern Enterprises, however, allegedly failed to complete any of the transactions or provide promised refunds. According to bank records, non-business purchases from gas stations, restaurants and the Sony Playstation Network were made with the account holding customers' monies.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction, costumer restitution, civil penalties and investigative costs.

The lawsuit against the Idaho-based Simplicity Travel follows phone calls and mailings to Indiana consumers who were offered free vacations or savings certificates in exchange for attendance at a 90-minute sales presentation on vacation club memberships.

Simplicity entered into an agreement recently in Marion County to pay $32,000 to Zoeller's office to provide consumer restitution and investigative costs. It also agreed to follow state laws regarding promotions, contracts and cancellation policies and to stop illegal telephone sales calls to Indiana consumers.

A total of 83 civil actions were brought by 28 states and 25 actions were brought by law enforcement agencies in 10 additional countries. The FTC also filed three cases. As a result, more than 184 individuals now face prosecution by U.S. attorneys and local law enforcement.

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