SINGAPORE — A woman who pretended to be a travel agent would lie to her clients by claiming that her mother was hospitalised or in an intense care unit (ICU) for becoming not able to continue with the journey programs she supposedly manufactured for them.
S Leelavadi, 55, would look for her clients’ agreement to postpone or refund their journeys, but would then vanish with the monies she was entrusted with for bookings.
The Singaporean, who did not have a legitimate journey agent’s license at the time, was sentenced to 20 weeks’ jail on Tuesday (10 August). She ideas to attraction versus her sentence.
She pleaded guilty to two counts below the Journey Brokers Act and a person count of prison breach of believe in, even though one more 7 counts of a similar mother nature have been deemed for her sentencing.
Labored with no vacation agent license
In 2000, Leelavadi begun work as a freelance vacation agent. In 2004, she labored for a certified travel agent dealing with tour offer bookings but still left inside nine months. She ongoing freelancing following that.
She would notify the buyers that she could make bookings for tours to India and Dubai and encouraged them on the mode of travel, the lodging and itinerary of the tour location. She would then give them a quotation.
Buyers who confirmed the tour had been essential to make a deposit payment of $500, which Leelavadi claimed she desired to make relevant bookings for their excursions.
In the months right before the departure dates of tours, she would chase her buyers for the equilibrium payment. She would then send out her prospects travel itineraries and suggest them on factors of their trips from insurance, currency exchange to area tours, primary her buyers to feel that she was a authentic travel agent.
Between 2013 and 2017, 8 victims entrusted their income to Leelavadi for the goal of tour bookings. Nonetheless, Leelavadi misappropriated the monies for her possess costs. She did not make any bookings. In close proximity to to the planned vacation dates, she would lie to her customers that her mom was hospitalised or in an ICU, and request their comprehension to postpone their visits or have them refunded.
When her buyers pressed her for the flight tickets so that they could journey to India or Dubai on their possess, Leelavadi was unable to offer them the flight tickets. She scammed a full of $34,950 from her victims, with 19 visits unfulfilled.
1 of the victims was an 82-yr-old girl who agreed to fork out $2,400 to Leelavadi for the latter to make bookings for her tour to India close to February 2017. The elderly girl had health care challenges but Leelavadi assured the target that she would choose treatment of her. Leelavadi claimed that the aged female was the similar age as her mother.
When February 2017 came about, the aged victim packed her baggage and waited for Leelavadi to choose her up to go to the airport. Even so, Leelavadi did not flip up and did not reply any calls designed to her phone.
Two days following the prepared date, Leelavadi returned the calls, saying her mom was hospitalised and that the excursion experienced to be cancelled. She was not able to exhibit any proof that she experienced booked flight tickets for the victim’s trip.
Leelavadi built total restitution as of 3 June very last year.
The prosecution sought at minimum five months’ jail for Leelavadi, expressing that she experienced abused the trust of a number of victims with the similar modus operandi.
The prosecution noted that Leelavadi had at first pleaded responsible on 30 March past 12 months before retracting her plea in June and going to trial. The demo dates were being preset ahead of she pleaded responsible once more at the “doorstep” of the demo, claimed the prosecution.
Leelavadi had only built restitution of $300 in 2017 and restituted the remaining amount of money only on 3 June final 12 months.
Shopper an avid traveller with in depth contacts: legal professionals
Her attorneys Kalidass Murugaiyan and Ashvin Hariharan claimed that their client had to raise cash to make restitution. She did so “not for the sole objective of an expectation of a lighter punishment, but because of to her authentic remorse for her actions and her want to guarantee that the victims have been not out of pocket provided her steps,” said the lawyers.
The lawyers explained their client as an “avid and knowledgeable traveller” who experienced a community of contacts to support in arranging excursions and travels.
She experienced initially only supplied to help arranging journeys for close friends and spouse and children users, who began to invite their personal pals to seek her companies.
Leelavadi experienced not profited from these trips and under no circumstances held herself out to be a journey agent.
Sad to say, Leelavadi herself had been cheated of her monies by an Indian agent who disappeared with her monies, the lawyers claimed.
Leelavadi then employed cash that have been meant for a victim’s planned journey to Dubai to pay back for the trip she was cheated of, they added.
The lawyers questioned for a jail time period of not much more than 3-and-a-50 percent months for the criminal breach of believe in offence, and a total fine of not a lot more than $4,000 for the Journey Agents Act charges.
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