Fake travel agent scammed people out of $400K for 'tickets to nowhere,' authorities say

One accuser thought they were buying a trip to Disney World for a family with a member battling cancer, the Pennsylvania attorney general says.
Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista, Florida in Oct. 2016.
Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista, Florida in Oct. 2016.Jacqueline Nell / Disneyland Resort via Getty Images file

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By Doha Madani

A Pennsylvania woman was charged Wednesday after allegedly posing as a fake travel agent in a scheme that raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Christine Hayes, 38, is accused of stealing money from at least 82 people by tricking them into buying $400,000 worth of vacation deals, according to a press release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“She misled hardworking people by promising incredible deals for dream vacations and then failed to deliver," Shapiro said.

Between July 2017 and February 2019, Hayes allegedly used aliases to sell travel fake travel packages. Her victims believed they were going on trips with their friends and family, only to discover "they had tickets to nowhere, their money stolen by this fake travel agent" the attorney general said.

Hayes allegedly came through on initial deals to clients but then provided fake packages later on. The prosecutor's office claims in some instances, Hayes took credit card information provided by clients to buy airline tickets for other people.

In one allegation, someone thought they were buying a trip to Disney World for a family in which one of the members was battling cancer.

"After the victim became concerned that the trip was not actually booked, Hayes tried to buy herself time by claiming she, herself, had breast cancer," the press release said.

Hayes is facing at least 12 charges, including theft, identity theft and access device fraud, court records showed. She posted $30,000 in bail and has not yet entered a plea.

An attorney for Hayes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shapiro's office said that Hayes has returned "most of the money" to her alleged victims after an investigation by state police.