Breaking News

Tampa Bay travel agent pleads guilty to defrauding customers

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Hopkins Travel Services proprietor Diana Hopkins peddled cruises via paradise for a portion of the heading costs. She sold the fantasy to Karen Regan, 60 of her good friends and other folks. And then she utilized customers’ cash for cruises for herself and her relatives. A several months soon after booking “buy a single, get 1 free” offers Norwegian cruise line canceled the excursions, accusing Hopkins of committing credit card fraud.

Clients, which includes Regan, experienced been informed the trip was $7,000. The true value tag was $23,000.

“It was a journey of a lifetime and none of us received to go,” Regan reported.

The U.S. Attorney’s Business of the Middle District of Florida filed rates versus Hopkins on March 4, accusing her of selling cruise packages to buyers, getting hundreds of 1000’s of bucks for their journeys, and then spending it on herself. Now, according to federal court docket , Hopkins has agreed to plead responsible.

Diana-Hopkins-travel-agent-WFTS-JACKIE.jpg

WFTS

Hopkins, who life in Wimauma, was billed with wire fraud, obtain gadget fraud, and unlawful monetary transactions in relationship with her business enterprise operations between April 2017 and September 2019. The authorities explained she misrepresented travel promotions, manufactured Ponzi-model payments on client’s reservations and applied victims’ money to pay back for particular and household costs, such as $24,500 for payment on a 2019 Dodge Ram. The financial losses to victims totaled $508,000.

Regan claimed she and her good friends were being lucky and received their revenue again.

“But we even now want to see her billed and see her fork out for what she did to all of us,” Regan reported.

Other customers are however waiting for their funds.

Hopkins’ legal professional Mark O’Brien instructed ABC Motion News in an e mail: “My client sincerely apologizes for any hurt she induced any of her victims. She has labored very really hard to process refunds for many of her purchasers and will keep on to do so. She entered her responsible plea mainly because she is guilty. she accepts complete accountability for her steps.”

That duty, in accordance to her signed responsible plea arrangement, incorporates making a restitution of $508,883.78 to the victims. The next court docket date is on April 12 in Tampa exactly where Hopkins is envisioned to enter a guilty plea. Sentencing is established for 90 times adhering to the hearing. She faces up to 40 many years in prison but for the reason that she has accepted responsibility, she may possibly not get the most significant sentence.

The FBI has not claimed how many victims were involved but anybody who has not nonetheless arrive ahead is asked to file a report with the agency.