Woman Pleads Guilty in Travel Agency Fraud Case

CLEARFIELD – A Brockport woman who is charged with misusing credit cards at a local travel business pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.

Lisa Ann Knight, 40, 207 Whetstone Rd., Brockport pleaded guilty to theft by deception and access device fraud. She was sentenced to two years of probation and was fined $350 plus costs.

As part of her plea agreement, she paid more than $12,400 in restitution prior to sentencing, giving her a probation only sentence.

Originally she was charged with seven counts of other reason access device is unauthorized by issuer, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, theft by deception and seven counts of access device issued to another who did not authorize use.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, an investigation into Knight, who was working for Tall Travel agency in DuBois, started after police were contacted by a DuBois resident. The victim’s son reported that his mother’s credit card was charged by Carnival Cruise Lines without her permission. She had made arrangements for a cruise and paid a down payment of $500 on her credit card. Later she wrote a personal check as payment for the balance of the cruise. This check, which was for $2,668.50, was deposited into Tall Travel’s account in June 2010. Then, on Aug. 19, 2010, her credit card was billed for the entire cruise. 

After being asked about the double billing, Knight gave the victim’s son a copy of a handwritten check, which she advised was proof of payment to Carnival for the cruise. When police inquired at the bank about this check, it was discovered that the check with that actual number from that account had been made out to Walt Disney Travel Company for a different amount and was typed.

Police talked with a representative of Carnival Cruise Line and learned that the company had never received this check or any other payment for the victim’s cruise. Knight used the victim’s credit card for payment of the cruise instead of forwarding the cash payment received from the victim. Because the victim disputed the charges the credit company later credited her.

Further investigation into bookings from Tall Travel uncovered other problems with credit cards used to pay for cruises. Many of these charges were disputed and then credited to the victims. Complaints filed with the Attorney General’s office led police to other victims who had the same problems with Tall Travel.

In one case, a victim was charged for a cruise for another couple who had paid with checks and not given the agency a credit card.

Carnival’s loses from this activity was listed as more than $25,000.

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