Jacksonville, Fla – Juan Carlos Arteaga (58, Conroe, Texas) pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Arteaga has agreed to pay at least $ 779,687 in restitution to victims of its offenses. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea deal, from at least March 2018 to at least January 2019, Arteaga, a former Jacksonville resident, introduced himself as someone who could offer customers heavily discounted travel arrangements for national and international travel. He has acted as a travel agent for clients throughout Florida and the United States. Although it works as a de facto travel agent, Arteaga was not a licensed travel agent.
Arteaga solicited friends, business contacts, acquaintances and recommendations of these people to purchase fictitious travel arrangements for him, including, but not limited to, domestic and international air tickets, hotel rooms. hotel and tickets to amusement parks. Arteaga used some of the funds he obtained from the victims to purchase travel arrangements for others, which delayed the discovery of the scheme as it appeared that the money paid by the victims was being used to purchase the trip. that they had asked for. Arteaga also used a portion of the program’s proceeds for personal enrichment, including mortgage payment, short-term loans, credit card and cable bills, grocery shopping, retirement home expenses, and the withdrawal of large sums of money.
Two of the victims of Arteaga’s scheme were PC and AC, who were longtime friends of Arteaga. In 2018, PC and AC started talking to Arteaga about a trip around the world via Road Scholar, Explore the World by Private Jet. PC and AC had successfully booked other travel arrangements in the past with Arteaga and had vacationed with Arteaga and his wife on several occasions. Arteaga said the Road Scholar trip would cost around $ 100,000, but if PC and AC paid for it the next day, Arteaga could offer them the trip for $ 60,000. Arteaga asked AC and PC to pay him $ 20,000, divided into five check payments, and transfer the $ 40,000 balance to him. AC and PC wired $ 40,000 to Arateaga.
In August 2018, PC learned from some friends that their trips with Arateaga had not been booked. AC then called Road Scholar and learned that their trip had not been booked. Road Scholar also said it does not offer any discounts, including to travel agents. After finding out that the trip was a sham, AC and PC confronted Arteaga who said he had not yet booked their trip because he was concerned about PC’s health. However, neither PC nor AC had cited PC’s health as the reason for delaying the Road Scholar trip and they were not interested in postponing the trip.
As with the other victims of his scheme, Arteaga did not use any of the funds he had received from AC and PC for a trip with Road Scholar. Instead, he used the money to organize travel for other victims and for himself, as well as to reimburse other travel victims.
This matter was investigated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is being sued by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington.