Travel Agents

Failed travel agency issued customers fake plane tickets before going under

A first liquidator’s report into a Kiwi travel company’s breakdown reportedly shows it was issuing customers with fake plane tickets.

Auckland-based travel company Travel Globe has left creditors more than NZ$230,000 ($221,637) out of pocket, according to a liquidator’s report, including customers who were issued with fake plane tickets.

The company is owned and directed by former bankrupt Jujhar Singh and his wife Harvinder Kaur, who served as director and shareholder until late December, Stuff reported.

The company, which was incorporated in 2015, filed for liquidation owing three secured creditors a total of at least NZ$10,400 ($10,020), two preferential creditors an unknown sum and more than 100 unsecured creditors more than NZ$200,000 ($192,689). While NZ$26,000 ($25,049)was reportedly an overdraft with Bank of New Zealand.

Local media reports indicate Travel Globe had a mere NZ$50,000 ($48,179) in fixed assets upon filing for liquidation in early January, prompting concern from liquidator Imran Kamal over the regulation of New Zealand’s travel agency industry.

Most of the customers issued fake tickets by Travel Globe were reportedly from the city’s Indian community, which was also targeted by Guru Travel before its collapse in November.

According to multiple reports, Kamal is unsure whether there is a connection between the companies, but points to the likelihood of their liquidations as signs of a “systematic way of operating”.

“[Travel Globe] received money, they haven’t bought the tickets and they’ve used it for something else,” the liquidator said, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.

Kamal described the findings of his investigations as “extremely concerning”, with Travel Globe’s customers issued fake tickets and itineraries as far back as August last year.

According to NZH, customers often only discovered this a week or two before their travel date when they contacted the airline themselves and were forced to pay for last-minute fares.

One of those customers was Arsh Bhardwaj, who in October reportedly paid Travel Globe NZ$2,400 ($2,312) for two airfares from Auckland to India on Singapore Airlines in February. His tickets were not credited after their reference numbers did not match up and the tickets were never paid for.

He ended up spending an additional NZ$2,700 ($2,601) rebooking his airfares to India, according to Stuff, and is unlikely to receive a refund.

Kamal believes Travel Globe was able to operate in this way as New Zealand’s travel agency industry isn’t regulated.

“This travel market should be regulated because this sort of provider should not be in the market at all providing this sort of service to the public,” Kamal said.

“Anyone can set up a travel agency. They don’t have to be a member of [Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand], they don’t have to have a trust account and they buy tickets from a wholesaler. So there’s no protection for the consumer.

“People just assume that things will be done properly and if it’s regulated there will be lots of checks and balances so that sort of thing doesn’t happen and the money that people pay is put into a trust account.”

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