Thursday, January 31, 2013

Very Impressed

I was reading the paper and came across this article about a local travel agent being sentenced to prison for stealing money from clients.  He would charge their credit cards twice - once to pay for their trip and the second time to give himself a 100% tip that he used to pay off other debts and expenses he had.  A quick search turned up another article from a few months ago on the trial itself.  I'm not sure how I missed it the first time.  Perhaps it was the picture with the story the second time around that caught my eye.

Let me throw out there right away that I don't understand how someone wouldn't notice they paid for a Hawaii trip twice.  Maybe he figured if he only did it people who were rich enough and careless enough they wouldn't notice.  Perhaps he figured if he did it randomly and for the same amount as the original charge, he could play it off as a mistake if caught.  Maybe if people are making down payments and then several follow-up payments, they don't notice that too many smaller payments were made over a period of time.

Last summer, as part of my ongoing college courses series, I had written about the marketing class in my undergraduate program.  Although I remember who most of the instructors of my classes were, I haven't used their names in any of them, even when I've had nice things to say about them.  I had to go back and look at what I had written about my marketing class.  I actually hadn't remembered his name previously, but when I saw the picture and the name together in the paper, I knew he was the travel agent.

So how was my experience with him teaching my class compared to his double charged clients?  You can go back and read the original post, but let's say that my experience wasn't all that different.  Like his clients, I got what I paid for - they got a trip to Hawaii, and I got credit for taking a marketing class.  Somewhat similar to his clients, I lost something of equal value - in their cases, they paid twice for one trip, and in my case, I didn't actually get the marketing class that he was paid to teach us and that I got credit for.

The best piece of marketing he tried to get away with was his restitution offer that you can see in the first link above.  He offered to pay restitution of $100,000 that he had stashed somewhere and claimed that a mystery man was willing to lend him the remaining $30,000 on the condition that he not go to prison, since that would likely reduce his ability to make enough money to pay the mystery man back.

Oh.  Okay.  A mystery man doesn't want you to go to prison, and if you do end up in prison, the people who you stole the money from won't get restitution.  That's pretty clever.  It doesn't even matter whether or not the mystery man is real.  I wonder if it was the marketer or the lawyer who thought up that trick.

The judge's comment was an instant classic, "the parole board will be very impressed if restitution is paid."

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