|By Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News |
June 07--A global crackdown on travel scams, coordinated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, involves at least four companies with links to North Carolina, the N.C. Attorney General's Office said Thursday.
The initiative included 190 actions taken by 28 states and eight other countries.
Among the actions is a lawsuit filed by Roy Cooper, N.C.'s attorney general, against East Coast Travel, A-2-Z Vacations, Millennium Travel and Promotions, Smart Travel & Incentives and their managers and operators.
Cooper said in his complaint that North Carolina consumers received mailers from East Coast Travel that claimed the consumers had been selected to receive a cruise or two roundtrip airlines tickets.
Consumers who responded were told they had to attend a travel presentation at a hotel in Durham or Chapel Hill, or at a shopping center in Apex in order to claim their free trip. The presentation turned out to be a high-pressure sales pitch for a travel club, A-2-Z Vacations, that misrepresented the company's credentials and partners, and the amount that it could save consumers on travel expenses.
Consumers also complained that the vacation certificates for "free" travel they received for attending the sales presentation were almost impossible to redeem. The vacation certificates, provided by Millennium Travel and Smart Travel, included so many blackout dates that consumers were left with few dates to travel. Consumers were even required to pay a deposit on their supposedly free trip.
A total of 13 consumers complained to Cooper's office about the company. Victims paid between $2,600 and $6,600 for the travel club membership, and most who contacted Cooper's office have gotten their money back.
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