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Vacation package scam

Ken Kleinlein

Ken Klein­lein

By Ken Kleinlein

Crime Scene

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – State Rep. Ray Pilon, a for­mer law enforce­ment offi­cer and can­di­date for the State Sen­ate, for­warded this infor­ma­tion to Crime Scene.

The Florida Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Con­sumer Ser­vices, and the Florida Attor­ney Gen­eral have issued con­sumer alerts warn­ing Florid­i­ans and vis­i­tors of an ongo­ing scam offer­ing fraud­u­lent pro­mo­tional vaca­tion pack­ages. The travel indus­try has reported a sharp increase in the num­ber of com­plaints related to fraud­u­lent Florida vaca­tion pack­ages. Be wary of robo calls, emails or faxes offer­ing pro­mo­tional vaca­tion pack­ages pur­ported to have been offered by legit­i­mate travel agen­cies, such as Expe­dia, Trav­e­loc­ity, Tri­pAd­vi­sor and others.

Con­sumers should be cau­tious when receiv­ing unso­licited phone calls or emails say­ing that they’ve won a “spe­cial pro­mo­tion” or free lux­ury vaca­tion. An edu­cated con­sumer is the best defense against fraud and decep­tion. Con­sumers are encour­aged to access tips and resources at FreshFromFlorida.com.

Con­sumers can pro­tect them­selves against travel/vacation scams with the fol­low­ing tips:

  • Find out if the seller of travel is reg­is­tered with the depart­ment and if any com­plaints have been filed against it.
  • Never give out credit card or check­ing account num­bers over the phone unless the con­sumer ini­ti­ated the call and is cer­tain of the company’s credentials.
  • Read the entire con­tract thor­oughly, ask ques­tions and do not sign it if there are any doubts.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is.
  • Go directly to the legit­i­mate travel book­ing com­pany web­site, such as Expedia.com or Travelocity.com, and con­tact the company’s cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ment to con­firm the promotion.

As the state’s clear­ing­house for con­sumer com­plaints, Con­sumer Ser­vices edu­cates the pub­lic, inves­ti­gates com­plaints and pro­vides medi­a­tion on behalf of con­sumers. The depart­ment recov­ered nearly $3 mil­lion for Florida con­sumers last year from mov­ing com­pa­nies, vehi­cle repair shops, pawn shops, health stu­dios, tele­mar­keters, sell­ers of travel, and more.

Con­sumers who believe fraud has taken place can con­tact the department’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion and infor­ma­tion hot­line at 800-HELP-FLA (435−7352) or, for Span­ish speak­ers, 800-FL-AYUDA (352−9832). For more infor­ma­tion about the Florida Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Con­sumer Ser­vices, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.


A/C scams

Sum­mer will be here shortly and the weather is already turn­ing warm – time to check and ser­vice your air con­di­tion­ing. The major­ity of A/C ser­vices are legit­i­mate and adhere to reg­u­la­tions. A small per­cent­age do not.

Recently, Florida Attor­ney Gen­eral Pam Bondi obtained a tem­po­rary injunc­tion to shut down air con­di­tion­ing ser­vice schemes. Some com­pa­nies were using false claims, intim­i­da­tion and scare tac­tics to coerce con­sumers into pur­chas­ing expen­sive air con­di­tion­ing parts and ser­vices that were not needed or ren­dered. The scheme cost con­sumers mil­lions of dollars.

The defen­dants allegedly used bait-and-switch tac­tics, entic­ing con­sumers with offers of mas­sively dis­counted air con­di­tion­ing ser­vices but then con­vinc­ing them to sign up for much higher-priced ser­vices. The defen­dants used weekly mail­ers and online ads to adver­tise air duct clean­ing ser­vices, often for less than $20. Air duct clean­ing ser­vices typ­i­cally cost between $450 and $1,000. Once con­sumers signed up for these ser­vices, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­pa­nies vis­ited the consumer’s home and attempted to sell other, more expen­sive services.

To view the com­plaint, click here.

To view the tem­po­rary injunc­tion, click here.

Before buy­ing get a sec­ond opin­ion if you sus­pect that an A/C ser­vice provider may be giv­ing you false infor­ma­tion, or con­tact the Attor­ney General’s office at 866 966‑7226, or MyFlordiaLegal.com

Take care, be care­ful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.

God Bless and pro­tect our mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment offi­cers, fire fight­ers, and EMT’s.

Happy Birth­day Eva and Linda.

Ken Klein­lein is a for­mer detec­tive with the NYPD spe­cial frauds squad, coor­di­nat­ing with local, state, and fed­eral law enforce­ment along with accred­ited secu­rity firms, on mat­ters of crime pre­ven­tion and pub­lic information.


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