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The owner of a Statesville travel agency is charged with scamming people out of more than $25,000, according to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles Eric Johnson, 43, of Statesville, is charged with six counts of obtaining property by false pretense, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The charges stem from a report filed by an 83-year-old woman claiming she, along with other customers, were scammed after booking a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska through Carolina Blue Tours, the sheriff’s office said.
The report was filed on July 26, 2023. The sheriff’s office identified Johnson as the owner of the company. Johnson was arrested on Dec. 19.
The sheriff’s office said the 83-year-old woman reported that Johnson cancelled the trip exactly one day before the cruise was scheduled for departure. The woman said Johnson would not issue an immediate refund, the sheriff’s office said.
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During an investigation, additional victims were identified and interviewed. It was found that Johnson took payments in excess of $25,000, the sheriff’s office said. To identify how the payments were used, search warrants were obtained for Johnson’s financial records as well as his company’s account history with Royal Caribbean.
Johnson’s account history with Royal Caribbean showed Johnson failed to book reservations for all of the victims that paid for the Alaskan cruise, the sheriff’s office said. It was determined that Johnson personally attended the cruise after informing all of the victims that the cruise was cancelled, the sheriff’s office said.
Money from the travel agency’s business account was also used to fund personal trips, the sheriff’s office said.
Johnson is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.