Fake Canadian travel agent allegedly frauded clients out of $276,000

Fake Canadian travel agent allegedly frauded clients out of $276,000

Investigators from the Financial Crimes Unit of Durham Regional Police in Canada have arrested and charged a woman for CA$245,000 (AU$276,000) of fraud while acting as a travel agent.

Tara Craig Brown, a 43-year-old woman from Whitby, Ontario, was allegedly posing as a travel agent and ‘kiting’ – where an agent collects payments from clients and doesn’t put the money towards their vacation, instead keeping the money.

The Financial Crimes Unit started investigating the woman in October 2020 after reports came in of her fraudulent activity.

It’s alleged that the woman was participating in this activity between 2011 and 2019 by using a fake Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) certificate to give her activities an appearance of legitimacy. Within her operations, the woman owns a travel business called ‘Travel Girl Inc’ and claims to specialise in group travel and destination weddings. Canadian police allege that she used over 21 aliases when undergoing her fraudulent activities.

Brown has been charged with four counts of ‘fraud exceeding $5000’, four counts of ‘use computer to commit computer offence’, four counts of ‘intercept computer functions’, four counts of ‘unauthorised use of credit card data’, five counts of ‘forgery’ and six counts of ‘utter forged document’.

She has been released on an undertaking but Canadian police are urging those with information to come forward.

Earlier this year, Lyne Barlow, a UK travel agent was sentenced to nine years in prison after frauding over 1,400 customers of £1.2 million (AU$2.09 million) in a con operation.

She also pretended to have cancer as a means of explaining her failures to pass on booking information, making Brown’s actions seem a bit less egregious.

Featured Image: Tara Craig Brown (Durham Regional Police)

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