Travel Agent on the run following multi-million fraud
By Leroy Smith
Several passengers who paid monies to book tickets with the Muneshwer’s Travel Agency are now left either without a flight or with no clear indication as to how they will get their monies back.
The News Room was informed that a travel agent at the establishment, who has been identified as Priya Lall, collected close to $9M from persons who paid for their flights and instead of being issued with their tickets, they were given travel itineraries.
The Fraud Department of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is involved in the matter as ranks seek to locate the young lady, who reportedly fled to the United States.
Thus far, some 20 persons have turned up at the company’s Water Street, Georgetown office with their itineraries and it expected that this number will increase.
Of the $9M, Lall allegedly issued $7M in tickets for flights on Fly Jamaica but she never remitted those monies to the travel agency.
As a consequence, the airline and the travel agency arrived at an agreement where passengers would be allowed to sit on the flight but those seats would have to be paid for by the travel agency.
When contacted by the News Room today, an official at the company pointed out that prior to working with the Muneshwer’s Travel Agency, Lall worked with Travel Span, Globe Span and Fly Jamaica.
Asked why the company was not able to detect this level of fraud, the management of the company indicated that the former agent capitalised on a loophole in the system.
It was explained that the company compiles daily reports on its total number of ticket sales and bookings and Fly Jamaica would submit weekly reports and it was the absence of that report during the one-week period that allowed the agent to get away with the fraudulent act.
Once the report was submitted to the company for the previous weeks, Lall packed her belongings and fled the country and is said to be residing in the United States. The fraud was uncovered on October 02, 2017.
News Room understands that US Embassy has since contacted the travel agency following complaints from US-bound passengers.
Meanwhile, the News Room was told that the relatives of the young lady have been in contact with the travel agency as they seek to have the charges dropped against her.
News Room was reliably informed that Lall reportedly contacted the agency and told them she is willing to offer her two cars and a house which could be held as surety until she secures the money to repay them.
However, when checks were carried out, it was determined that the cars are not in the woman’s name and the house is still being paid for through the bank.