Long Island travel agent accused of scamming cruise trip clients

VALLEY STREAM, Long Island (WABC) -- A Long Island travel agent is accused of scamming at least six clients out of more than $10,000.

Police say Darlene Buonauro accepted a couple's reservation for a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 15th anniversary.

The couple told friends and family about the cruise and four other people also booked a trip through her agency, Learning Through Travel Journeys in Bellmore.

When they didn't receive travel documents, they contacted the cruise line and were told their reservation was canceled due to non-payment.

"Instead of the luxury Alaskan cruise that they paid for, this unscrupulous travel agent allegedly left her victims high and dry when she stole their cruise fare," Nassau County DA Madeline Singas said.

She encouraged any other potential victims to call the Financial Crimes Bureau at 516-571-2149.

Buonauro, 57, of Wantagh, is charged with scheme to defraud in the first degree.

The District Attorney's office offered tips on what to look for when using a travel agent.

--In addition to travel agency documents, ask for a copy of the booking confirmation issued by the cruise line, airline, hotel at the time of the initial deposit.

--If purchasing travel insurance through the travel agent, ask the name of the insurance carrier. In addition to travel agency documents, ask for a copy of the travel insurance confirmation and the policy. (Note: some travel insurance companies provide additional benefits if insurance is purchased within 15 days of the booking)

--If the travel involves a cruise, note the date on which payment is required in full and how much money has already been paid and when it was paid.

--If the travel involves a cruise, note the date on which full payment is due. Request confirmation issued by the cruise line showing that full payment has been made.

--Luggage tags and boarding passes should be those issued by the cruise line or airline, not the travel agent.
--Check with Consumer Affairs to see if any complaints against the travel agent/agency.

--Payments by credit card may be reversible/may offer greater protection to the consumer because the charge can be disputed if the service was not received. Payment by check or by debit card would require a refund from the travel agent. In any event, always keep copies of records of payment.

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