Spitzer Announces Vouchers For Victims Defrauded By Travel Agent

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that hundreds of consumers victimized by a Buffalo travel agent will receive travel vouchers under an agreement between his office and Continental Airlines.

Last month, Michelle Kasza pled guilty to charges of Grand Larceny for defrauding hundreds of Buffalo-area residents out of nearly $440,000 over a three year period by taking money for plane tickets and hotel reservations that she never booked.

Under the agreement, 410 people will receive vouchers for a 75% discount off Continental's regular fare for any trip within the United States. After being informed by the Attorney General that Kasza had told most of her victims that they would be flying on Continental, the airline agreed to provide the vouchers as a goodwill gesture. Continental had no relationship with Kasza and no knowledge of what she was doing.

"I want to commend Continental for stepping up to the plate to help correct a problem that it did not create. Thanks to the company's actions, we have a fairly happy ending to a sad story," said Spitzer. "This case should serve as a warning to consumers using a travel agent -- check your agent's track record with the Better Business Bureau, use a credit card to pay whenever possible, and never pay the full amount for a vacation up front."

Taking part in the news conference were a number of Kasza's victims -- Sara Hart, Shirley Klass, Dorothy Robinson, Helen Atkinson, Ellyn Shalloe, Mary Carol Herwood, and Michael Wachowitz.

Kasza will be sentenced on June 29th. She faces up to 2 1/3- 7 years in prison. Spitzer's office is still seeking restitution from Kasza on behalf of her victims.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Dennis Rosen of the Buffalo Regional Office and Investigator Michael McParlane, under the direction of Deputy Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Chief William Comiskey and the head of the Criminal Division, Peter Pope.