Foreign Nationals Were Targeted in Scam
The promoter of a travel scam that targeted immigrants will pay in excess of $84,000 in consumer redress and be required to post a $150,000 performance bond before selling travel services in the future, under the terms of a Federal Trade Commission settlement. The promoter, who did business as Your Travels and Tours, Inc., also will be barred from misrepresenting the conditions under which she will provide airline tickets and refunds to consumers.
On March 12, 1997, the FTC filed suit against Your Travels and Tours, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; its president Abul Khayer, and Umme Salma Momtaz Alam, Khayer's wife and co-owner of the company, of Lincoln, Massachusetts, in U.S. District Court in Boston charging them with violating federal law. The FTC alleged that the defendants defrauded consumers by repeatedly failing to deliver pre-paid airline tickets to them, and by promising, but later failing, to make refunds to consumers. The FTC's complaint alleged that the defendants advertised low-cost airline tickets to international destinations in publications such as India Abroad, New India-Times and The Ethiopian Review. Consumers who responded to the ads were quoted prices ranging from about $1,100 to $1,700. The defendants required consumers to submit payment immediately, based on the promise that they would receive their tickets within a few days. But, according to the FTC's complaint, in many instances, the defendants failed to deliver the tickets or make refunds. The FTC asked the court to freeze the defendants' assets, issue a permanent injunction against their business practices, and provide for consumer redress.
Ms. Alam has agreed to settle the FTC charges. She will pay consumer redress of $84,439.50, of which $73,439.52 will be used to satisfy a criminal judgment for restitution issued as a result of her conviction on wire and mail fraud charges that were brought by the U. S. Attorney in Massachusetts. She also will be required to notify the FTC before she resumes employment in the travel industry, and to post a $150,000 performance bond before selling airline tickets or other travel services, whether she is employed by others or self-employed. The judgment bars future misrepresentations by her about travel services, including misrepresentations that she will provide airline tickets to consumers by a specific time, at a specific price or on a specific date, or that she will provide refunds promptly to consumers who do not receive their pre-paid airline tickets. Finally, the judgment contains record keeping provisions to allow the FTC to monitor compliance.
Abul Khayer, who was also convicted of wire and mail fraud charges in a related criminal proceeding, is currently incarcerated, and is not a party to this settlement.
The stipulated final judgment and order was entered by the court on August 31, 1998.
NOTE: This stipulated final judgment and order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final judgment and order and FTC consumer publications, "Travel Tips: How to Gear Up for a Great Trip," and "Telemarketing Travel Fraud" are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. X97 0030)
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