NEWARK – The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announce that customers who paid for but did not receive all or part of the all-inclusive travel packages they purchased from Crown Travel Service, Inc., of Bloomfield will receive a total of $525,000 in restitution.
The Division of Consumer Affairs this week mailed restitution checks to 227 customers in New Jersey and 18 other states, who were defrauded by Crown Travel Service, also known as “Club ABC Tours,” and an affiliated company ABC Destinations, LLC. The companies and their principals, brothers Robert S. Paris and Thomas H. Paris, paid the state $525,000, under terms of the September 2015 Final Consent Judgment which resolved an action filed on behalf of these customers. The Division has applied the entire settlement payment to consumer restitution.
The state had filed an action against Crown Travel Service, ABC Destinations, and the Paris brothers, alleging that they violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Advertising Regulations through their continued advertisement, offering for sale and sale of travel packages, when Club ABC Tours was insolvent at least as early as December 2008, and ABC Destinations was insolvent as early as June 2012. Nevertheless, the defendants continued to accept customer payments through September 2012, for travel packages that were to occur as late as October 2013.
Subsequently, some customers found themselves stranded overseas without hotel accommodations when Crown Travel Service abruptly closed its doors in October 2012. Other customers made payments for travel packages that were never booked and did not get their money back.
“These restitution checks mark the final chapter in the state’s efforts to halt and remedy the deceptive practices of the Paris brothers and their businesses,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “Through their actions, the defendants heartlessly prevented customers from enjoying hard-earned vacations and milestone events such as anniversary celebrations in dream locations around the globe.”
“As a result of this settlement, the Division succeeded in obtaining $525,000, which has permitted us to provide affected consumers with approximately 65 percent of their verified losses,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Our goal throughout this process was to return as much as possible to those customers who did not receive all or a portion of their travel packages for which they paid.”
A separate civil penalty of $119,000 assessed against Robert Paris and Thomas Paris will be suspended and vacated after two years if they satisfy the terms of the Final Consent Judgment, which includes a prohibition from: accepting payment for a travel package, and then failing to provide some or all of the paid-for merchandise (i.e. airfare, hotel accommodations); accepting payment for a travel package, then failing to remit funds to the vendors for the accommodations; and advertising a “cancel-for-any reason” travel protection program, if such is not the case.
The settlement also provides for the dissolution of Crown Travel Service and ABC Destinations within nine months. For a period of two years, Robert Paris and Thomas Paris are to notify the Division if they open a business in New Jersey and/or advertise, offer for sale and/or sell merchandise to consumers in New Jersey.
Investigators Murat Botas and Oscar Mejia of the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection conducted this investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Lorraine K. Rak, Chief of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, represented the state in this action.