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Post date: January 21 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Reaches Settlement With Fraudulent Vacation Package Scammers Who Targeted Consumers Across State And Posed As Major U.S. Airlines

Company Claimed Consumers Won Free Airfare And Lodging & Compelled Them To Attend Sales Presentation

Company Must Cease Deceptive Practices And Pay Restitution & $22,500 Penalty

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office reached a settlement with Vacation Tours USA, Inc., a Florida based firm, and its principals Henry J. Armand and Tony J. Armand, over a false advertising scam targeting consumers across New York State. The company sent letters to consumers telling them they had won a vacation package, including airfare and lodging, and invited them to attend a seminar at a local hotel. Letters listed the name of major US airlines in the header, including US Air, Southwest, and Jet Blue. Once at the hotel, consumers were subjected to a sales presentation conducted by a third-party company instead of being given vouchers for free airline tickets and hotel stays.

“Today’s settlement makes it clear that scammers who mislead hard-working New Yorkers will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Nobody is above the law, and my office will take swift action against those who prey upon consumers.”

The letters sent to consumers would state that the company previously tried unsuccessfully to contact the consumer about their award and stated that the retail value of the airline tickets and lodging is up to $1,398. The letter contained a claim number and a telephone number for the consumer to call to claim their prize. Once consumers made the call, they were told they must attend a seminar at a local hotel in order to claim their tickets and lodging. Once at the hotel, consumers sat through what amounted to a sales presentation where it became clear that there were no free tickets or lodging.

Vacation Tours USA, Inc. is documented as conducting seminars at locations in at least the following cities:

  • Albany
  • Buffalo
  • Binghamton
  • Newburgh
  • White Plains
  • Holtsville
  • Horseheads

The settlement reached by the Attorney General’s Office requires the company to halt deceptive, fraudulent, and illegal business practices in New York State, pay restitution to all consumers who file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office within 90 days of the agreement, and to pay civil penalties and costs in the sum of $22,500.

If consumers believe they were a victim of this scam, they can contact Attorney General Schneiderman’s Office by calling 1-800-771-7755 or 607-721-8771.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Danaher of the Binghamton Regional Office. The Binghamton Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General In-Charge James Shoemaker. The Division of Regional Offices is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.