PENNSYLVANIA — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced recent action taken to ensure a travel agent who recently filed for bankruptcy is unable to discharge the debts she owes to Pennsylvania consumers who paid for a trip to Germany that never happened.
Denise Hay, who owned and operated two travel agencies — Grand View Tours, Inc. and Ocean View Tours & Travel, LLC — accepted more than $171,000 from 32 consumers for a trip to Germany that was supposed to happen in 2020, was postponed due to COVID-19, then canceled.
Hay kept the payments and provided no refunds or replacement trips for the consumers. She has since filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The Office of Attorney General has filed an objection to Hay being relieved, via bankruptcy action, of paying back what she owes consumers.
“Ms. Hay’s bankruptcy filing is yet another selfish attempt to preserve her own assets and avoid paying back the Pennsylvanians who purchased trips with their hard-earned money,” Attorney General Henry said. “If Pennsylvania consumers pay for goods or services and get nothing in return, our office will fight for those victims.”
The Office of Attorney General’s complaint alleges that 32 travelers paid approximately $171,535 in total to Mrs. Hay and her businesses for a trip to Oberammergau, Germany, originally scheduled for May 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the trip was delayed to May 2022. However, the travelers were notified in February 2022 that the trip was permanently canceled because Grand View Tours was unable to complete the travel arrangements– though consumers had paid for their arrangements in 2019.
Shortly after Hay notified the travelers that the trip was canceled, she filed for bankruptcy. Through the investigation, it was uncovered that Hay had not returned any of the funds travelers had pre-paid to Grand View or Ocean View, even though Hay obtained refunds for the amounts she paid to vendors.
Some travelers attempted to obtain refunds through their credit card companies but were unsuccessful due to Hay claiming she would give the travelers a credit on future travel. When these travelers were unsuccessful at obtaining a chargeback, they attempted to collect on the optional trip insurance for which they had paid an additional fee. The insurance company told the travelers that Hay had made no arrangements for the coverage of the trip and all of the claims were denied.
The complaint requests that the court denies the discharge of debts that Hay owes the travelers. This money is alleged to have been obtained “by false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud” and therefore should not be eligible for a bankruptcy discharge. Specifically, the Bankruptcy Code prevents the discharge of a debtor who has “failed to explain satisfactorily any loss of assets or deficiency of assets to meet the debtor’s liabilities.”
The Complaint was filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware by Senior Deputy Attorney General Christopher Momjian from the Financial Enforcement Section in collaboration with Chief Deputy Attorney General Sarah Frasch and Consumer Protection Agent Jordon Foley of the Bureau of Consumer Protection on May 24.
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