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Post date: November 10 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Temporary Restraining Order Against Rochester Travel Agent For Allegedly Deceiving Clients, Violating Agreement

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2016

New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525
nyag.pressoffice@ag.NY.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST ROCHESTER TRAVEL AGENT FOR ALLEGEDLY DECEIVING CLIENTS, VIOLATING AGREEMENT   

In June 2016, Constance Catanise, Owner Of Escapes, Inc, Agreed To Pay $60K In Restitution And A Ban from Business; Violated Agreement

Schneiderman: Business Owners Who Fail To Provide Paid Services And Violate Agreements With My Office Will Be Held Accountable

ROCHESTER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit against Constance Catanise and her travel agency, Escapes, Inc., alleging that she has engaged in deceptive business practices and violated an agreement she entered into with the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year barring her from operating as a travel consultant. 

According to the court papers, the Attorney General’s Office had received complaints from consumers who paid Catanise for overseas plane tickets, hotels and tours, only to discover that Catanise had not made some of the bookings.  In one instance, an alumni group from McQuaid Jesuit High School paid Catanise for a tour or World War I and II battlefields in France.  When they arrived at the Toronto Airport, however, they learned that Catanise had not booked the flights, and most of the group returned home rather than rely on Catanise and risk being stranded in France.   In another case, a family booked a trip to Italy to see the village where their mother was born and to see relatives still living there.  When the family arrived at the airport in Italy to return home, they learned that Catanise had failed to book and pay for business class plane tickets for the whole group.

In response to the consumer complaints, the AG investigated Catanise and on, June 16, 2016, Catanise signed an agreement with the AG agreeing to pay $60,000 in restitution to consumers.  In addition, Catanise agreed to be barred from operating as a travel consultant or travel promoter.  But she failed to live up to her agreement.  Catanise paid no restitution to consumers and, according to the court papers, continued to operate a travel business but under the new name “Grace Places,” and even used the false name “Erica” on occasion.

“Because our investigation revealed that Ms. Catanise had scammed consumers, my office entered into an agreement with her that she would pay a fine and not engage in the travel-booking business,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We have filed this suit because Ms. Catanise decided to blatantly violate our agreement by operating under a new name and has continued to scam consumers. We stand firm in our commitment to holding accountable unscrupulous business owners.”

The court papers allege that, even as Catanise signed the agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, she continued to operate her business under a new name and continued to take money from consumers but failed to apply the payments to tour costs.

The Court granted Attorney General Schneiderman’s request to immediately prohibit Catanise from transferring any of her assets and prohibit her from accepting any advance payments from consumers while the Court hears the case. Schneiderman’s office is seeking a court order barring Catanise from the travel business unless she posts a $100,000 bond. The lawsuit also seeks refunds for consumers and civil penalties for Catanise’s violations of consumer protection laws.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey in the Buffalo Regional Office which is led by Michael Russo, Assistant Attorney General in Charge. The Buffalo Regional Office is a part of the Division of Regional Offices, led by Martin J. Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.

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