SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently filed a lawsuit against Global Discovery Vacation Program for allegedly cheating Illinois residents out of nearly $80,000 in a travel club scam.

The Cook County Circuit Court lawsuit against Global Connections Inc., Madmol Inc. and GVN Illinois states that the Kansas-based company and two of its Chicago-area sales agents allegedly scammed customers for membership to a travel club that failed to deliver on its promises of worldwide vacation destinations.

The company allegedly demanded up to $8,000 in upfront payments and nearly $400 in annual fees, but did not provide discounts and instead charged customers more to book vacations. Many customers allege that the vacation properties were in substandard conditions.

The program is sold through direct mail and telemarketing calls that claim consumers have won a free prize or free roundtrip airfare, and often include a fake check or letter from major airlines, Madigan says. Consumers were then required to attend a sales presentation to receive their prize, she said.

“This operation has all the makings of a scam,” Madigan said. “Any time you are offered a ‘free’ prize or a supposed award, that’s a red flag. If you receive solicitations like this, your first and only move should be to throw it in the trash.”

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