Travel Agents

“Ponzi scheme” agent convicted

A Melbourne travel agent has been convicted for leaving clients out of pocket to the tune of almost $25,000.

According to an article published in the Australian Jewish News (AJN) on April 27, travel consultant Zvi Dov Bartak of Time2Travel was sentenced to 150 hours of community services and ordered to repay $24,890 to clients after he took payments for a Pesach retreat in 2016 that never eventuated.

Four families were reportedly out of pocket after the retreat, that was to take place on the Gold Coast after it was abruptly cancelled.

One man told AJN he was left $13,000 out of pocket after making a booking to attend the Pesach retreat for his wife, his brother and himself, but when he contacted Marriott to order extra accommodation, problems began to arise.

After not being able to get in contact for days on end, the man, who asked to remain anonymous, received an email from Bartak which said the event had been cancelled because he had been “let down by the Melbourne Jewish Community”.

The man told Travel Weekly he was particularly distressed when Bartak posted a photo on Facebook boasting he was flying first class to Thailand on a business trip during the ordeal.

Bartak was arrested in February last year and charged with five counts of obtaining property by deception.

Magistrate Charles Tan said Bartak’s business sounded like “a ponzi scheme through a travel agency.”

He added that Bartak would be facing prison had he not pleaded guilty or if he had any prior convictions.

The agent’s barrister said Time2Travel had closed down last year but Bartak has continued working as an agent and intended to repay his former clients.

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