An Ontario travel agent convicted in connection to two fraudulent cruise bookings in 2016 and 2017 has been sentenced to jail time, according to the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).
On Feb. 8, 2019, Karen Gushue, who has also gone by the name Karen Robinson, was convicted of two counts of operating as a travel agent without registration. Gushue will serve sentences of 75 days and 45 days in jail intermittently and concurrently, TICO said. Gushue has appealed the convictions and in the interim, she was released on bail on conditions consistent with the criminal case. A date for the appeal hearing will be set.
The conviction was in relation to Gushue selling travel services to consumers who believed they were purchasing all-inclusive cruise packages to the Bahamas and Hawaii. Those consumers did not receive either part or all of the travel services they had paid for. Many of the consumers impacted are in the Fort Erie area and members of a local Royal Canadian Legion.
“This is a very unfortunate situation and a serious violation of Ontario’s travel consumer protection rules,” said Richard Smart, TICO’s president and CEO. “Ms. Gushue took advantage of a community that trusted her, putting their hard-earned vacations at risk. It’s an important reminder that anyone selling travel in Ontario needs to be registered with TICO, and that consumers can always verify if a travel agency is TICO-registered through the search directory on TICO’s website.”
TICO was successful in ensuring partial restitution from Ms. Gushue in the amount of $15,000, which will be returned to consumers on a pro-rata basis.
Gushue has also been charged by the Niagara Regional Police with fraud over $5,000 under the Criminal Code. This matter is ongoing and is currently awaiting trial.
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