Authorities investigate travel agency for theft as more victims come forward

Honolulu police are now investigating one of the travel agencies that allegedly took several thousand dollars from families who booked trips to the Philippines.

The families called KHON2’s Action Line office after discovering just a few days before their scheduled departure that the tickets they had paid for were never actually booked.

HPD says a theft investigation is underway. We’re also finding out more about the company as more victims come forward.

We’ve learned that two more victims have reported losing money to the same travel agency and that the company has been operating without a license for over a year.

A spokeswoman for HPD tells us that officers are now investigating two cases of second-degree theft against Archipelago Travel.

One of the families spoke with KHON2 and said they paid nearly $13,000 for eight round-trip tickets tickets to the Philippines, which they never received.

“It was canceled because they never paid. All our tickets were not paid so we didn’t have a flight,” said victim Mira Secretaria.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau said two other victims have reported losing money. One lost $30,000 and a Kauai couple is out $6,000.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is also asking victims to report any incidents so it can investigate.

“If we receive a complaint, then that’s a point in time that our office would follow up and make sure that any monies that were paid to a licensee were accounted for appropriately,” said DCCA complaints and enforcement officer Daria Loy-Goto.

That presents another problem. We’ve learned from DCCA records that Archipelago Travel voluntary terminated its license in May 2014, so it shouldn’t have been doing business. The state says it’s important that such businesses are reported.

“In that case, then our office is going to initiate probably a Circuit Court action,” Loy-Goto said. “It would be a lawsuit and it would be seeking a permanent injunction from the court which would prohibit the individual from engaging in unlicensed activity in the future.”

Fines can also be imposed if the owners are found. We found two addresses listed in the license applications for Archipelago.

One of them is on North King Street. We spoke with the landlord who owned the building for 15 years and she said during that whole time, there was never a travel agency that rented the building out.

We also checked the second address, an apartment in Makiki, and was told the owners no longer live there.

Both the DCCA and Hawaii Better Business Bureau stress that it’s important that you research a company before doing business. You can check online to see if the companies have received complaints and if they’re licensed.

Also, pay with a credit card rather than cash or check. A credit card company can refund any money that is lost.

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