CLIFTON PARK -- A former travel agent admitted this week to stealing nearly $50,000 from customers of her Halfmoon agency.
Anna Marie Perrotti, 48, the sole proprietor of the Sand Dollar Travel Agency on Route 9, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Saratoga County Court to third-degree grand larceny, a felony, District Attorney Karen Heggen said. In doing so, she told Judge James Murphy III that she stole $47,684 from customers between December 2014 and August 2016.
A state police investigation found she took in about $350,000 from customers but failed to make the travel reservations, Heggen said in a news release. Troopers received more than 50 complaints from customers — including wedding planners, newlyweds planning honeymoons and cruise seekers — who paid Perrotti in full before learning no travel arrangements had been made. Perrotti was arrested by state police in September, turning herself in after investigators found she had defrauded the customers.
“This is a case of someone who had little regard for the impact her actions had on others,” Heggen said. “My office learned of story after story about travelers who headed out for their dream vacations to arrive at the airport, port or hotel and find they did not have reservations. They were devastated to be unable to complete trips they had planned for years.”
Perrotti often used funds paid by one customer to book fast-approaching trips for others, “and therefore at a much higher cost than if it had been paid for at the time of payment to her by the customer,” Heggen said.
Most of the customers paid with credit cards and were compensated by their credit card companies, but several paid with cash, personal checks or debit cards. The last-minute bookings and payments resulted in 18 customers losing a total of $47,684, investigators found.
One of the defrauded customers, Lisa Towle, told The Daily Gazette at the time of the arrest that she and her husband paid Perrotti about $6,000 in April 2016 for a trip to St. Lucia in February. A few months later, Towle’s card was declined, and she realized Sand Dollar Travel had charged her $30,000 instead. She called Perrotti, who apologized and acted surprised.
“She kept saying, ‘I can’t believe this happened. I feel so bad,’” Towle recalled.
Perrotti faces six months in county jail and five years of probation, assuming she can pay the full restitution before her sentencing on June 21, Heggen said. If she does not make the payment the court will impose a state prison term of up to four years, she said.