Jacksonville woman arrested on fraud after holy site pilgrimages purchased, then cancelled without
Jacksonville woman arrested on fraud after holy site pilgrimages purchased, then cancelled without refunds
A 62-year-old Mandarin woman was arrested Friday on a state charge of organized scheme to defraud more than $50,000 after pilgrimage trips to holy sites around the world were sold to people, then cancelled without any refunds, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Law enforcement agents arrested Maria Constanza Shults of Rutherford Court, and she was booked into the Duval County jail on $250,000 bail, according to state officials.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said “preying on people’s religious faith to defraud them will not be tolerated,” adding this case will be aggressively prosecuted through the Jacksonville Office of Statewide Prosecution after the “travel fraud scheme was shut down.”
According to state investigators, Shults offered the pilgrimages to Catholics in the city, the journeys supposed to go to holy sites in countries such as Israel, Italy and Portugal. Shults collected payments averaging $2,500 to $7,000 from each victim, then canceled the trips without giving them back any of their money, investigators said. The law enforcement investigation began in September 2015, with 27 known victims identified throughout North and Central Florida, losing a total of $106,000.