Maryland Shuttle Agent Scams $433,000 From Shoppers

A Maryland primarily based journey agent will probably be serving 3 years in jail and pay on the subject of $433,000 in reimbursements for fraud dedicated to her consumers.

In 2019, consumers bought “discounted” cruise programs from Diana Hopkins of Hopkins Shuttle Products and services primarily based in Florida. As an alternative, Hopkins used to be the usage of the bills to hide the journeys of alternative consumers. Hopkins pleaded to blame to the accusations and said greed didn’t gas her movements, it used to be problems together with her playing habit.

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“I imagine in my center, and I’ve represented many of us accused of white-collar prison fraud, that Ms. Hopkins only dedicated this crime because of a playing habit,” said Mark O’Brien, who spoke with WFTS Tampa following her sentencing listening to on Monday.

Hopkins legal professional O’Brien asked she will get a lesser sentence after pleading to blame. He additionally informed the court docket Hopkins wishes further remedy for her habit and cares for 12 foster kids. “She is aware of that the folks positioned consider in her as a journey agent and she or he violated that consider,” stated O’Brien.

The pass judgement on sentenced Hopkins to 37 months in federal jail and a restitution of $432,939. The State of Florida has additionally moved to unlock the kids she has beneath her Foster Care. The State of Florida has additionally moved to unlock the kids she has beneath her Foster Care.

“I need to see everybody this is out of cash get their a reimbursement,” stated Karen Regan, a former buyer of Hopkins in 2019. On the time, Regan concept she had booked the cruise of her desires at a deal. “I had discovered about it via a pal of mine who went to highschool with Diana Hopkins and a host in their buddies traveled together with her sooner than, no downside, so I depended on it,” Regan stated. Then Regan satisfied 60 of her buddies from different portions of Maryland to cruise together with her in Might of 2021. “We couldn’t go it up, it used to be reasonable,” stated Regan.

Purchase One Get One Loose

However Hopkins marketed a phony “buy-one, get-one loose” deal that by no means existed. After a federal investigation, prosecutors discovered Hopkins used to be the usage of buyer bank cards to make the bills on different purchasers’ reservations. “She used folks’s playing cards in all places,” Regan added.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines

Picture courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Strains

In 2019 WMAR-2 Information uncovered Hopkins’ operation when consumers despatched Norwegian Cruise Line invoices to Mallory Sofastii, investigative reporter for Baltimore’s ABC 2 Information. All their cruises have been canceled as soon as all events concerned suspected Hopkins of bank card fraud. There used to be one incident, Hopkins charged $2,300 for a commute, that in reality value $7,000. Hopkins used 12 playing cards to make the bills and simplest 3 of the ones bank cards belonged to the true buyer. “She used to be stealing from Peter to pay Paul and, sadly, it stuck as much as her,” said O’Brien. Norwegian Cruise Line refunded Regan and her buddies for the costs made through Hopkins.

Hopkins’ legal professional claims she already reimbursed 91 out of the 320 consumers and seven company entities she scammed together with her journey company.

In Maryland, there’s no license or certification required to be a journey agent, which is why it’s vital for customers to investigate who they’re running with. A certification or license isn’t required to develop into a journey agent. Shoppers must take the vital steps to investigate businesses providing “too excellent to be true” offers.

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