A North Carolina travel agent is facing multiple charges of allegedly scamming several customers out of a cruise vacation.
Charles Eric Johnson, owner of Carolina Blue Tours in Statesville, NC, was charged with six felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.
Agent Took Payment, Falsely Claimed Cruise was Canceled
He is suspected of targeting and cheating elderly customers out of a total of $25,000. The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office says Johnson took payment for the cruise, but no bookings were ever made – at least not in the customers’ names.
One day before the scheduled cruise date, Johnson falsely informed them the sailing was canceled and didn’t immediately issue any refunds, the sheriff’s office said.
Johnson Booked Himself on the Cruise
The Alaska cruise operated normally, and Johnson was onboard as a guest. “It was determined that Johnson had personally attended the cruise after informing all of the victims that the cruise had been canceled,” the sheriff’s office said.
One of the customers filed a fraud report with the police, and the investigation found that no bookings had been made for the customers with cruise line Royal Caribbean. Search warrants were also obtained for Johnson’s financial records. He was arrested on December 19.
According to local radio station WHKY, citing the sheriff’s office, Johnson had shifted funds from the travel agency business to his personal account.
Some of these funds were used for personal vacations. Johnson was released on a $6,000 bond and had a court hearing on January 17.