Leslie Glauser, who was the owner and operator of former travel business T&T Travel, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison.
In addition to her incarceration in a federal prison, Glauser will have to pay back $200,000 in retributions once she is released from custody. The fraud total exceeded over $1,000,000.
Before her sentencing late Tuesday morning, she had pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000.
250 clients were affected by fraud from T&T Travel over the last several years. 50 counts were not able to get their money back and are part of the $200,000 prorated surcharge through a joint submission by the Crown and defence. The other 200 clients eventually received their payment back from credit card companies.
Crown prosecutor Darren Howarth described the fraud situation as a "destination vacation Ponzi scheme".
"[She] enticed people with cheap vacations in order to get the money and spend it on something else to continue that cycle," said Howarth. "It went on for quite a while, unfortunately."
The RCMP received around 150 complaints from the public in late January 2016 towards the travel agency. Once more complaints came forth from the public, the RCMP decided to run an investigation on the matter. Glauser had decided to close her business not to long before the investigation began.
The lengthy investigation uncovered a number of interesting factors:
- Back in 2010, a forensic audit unveiled that Glauser made 160 withdrawals totalling $62,450.
- Between 2011 to 2013, over $85,000 had been withdrawn, according to the audit.
- Largest loss for an individual customer totalled $30,000.
- Glauser's father, who is retired and living in Arizona, gave her $114,000 in 2014 to help her pay for some of the outstanding vacations she had taken money from. At that time, he had warned her saying "this is not a sustainable business". Glauser continued running the business for less than 2 years after that discussion.
Howarth added how there is no money left now, causing people to miss out on their vacations and time off. The "snowball" effect the situation had been taking for so many years had finally reached its end.
"A number of them were wedding destinations, one-time-only trips to places like Disneyland, and certainly those types of memories are worth far more than just the money," said Howarth. "This caused a lot of inconvenience and heartache for people that missed out on those trips."
Four victim impact statements were read in the courtroom from clients affected by fraud from T&T Travel. The residents shared their stories with those in attendance, including Leslie Glauser.
Some of them were able to get their money back or decided to book another trip with a different company to enjoy their vacation. Others were not so lucky and were left with nothing.
"Some said they didn't want to share their story anymore, but those four did, for the reason to speak to Mrs. Glauser," mentioned Howarth.
Glauser will be incarcerated in a federal prison for the next 3 years. The decision of where she will be placed is up to Correctional Service Canada.