Disgraced Toronto travel agent Carolyn Michelle Solomon has been found guilty of defrauding Greater Toronto Area travellers of more than $454,000.
Global News exposed the scheme in 2015 after receiving multiple consumer complaints. Solomon called police each time she was confronted at her office when asked to explain what happened to travellers’ money.
In an agreed submission by Crown attorneys and Solomon’s defence lawyer, the court heard that between Oct. 11, 2014 and July 31, 2016, Solomon defrauded 56 individual consumers.
Another 15 businesses lost money to Solomon’s fraud. The largest of those businesses involved is WestJet, which is owed more than $21,000.
Justice Diane Oleskiw was told that Solomon typically would accept money for airline tickets and travel services, but not actually buy the tickets. Sometimes, travellers would show up at the airport in Canada to find out their itineraries were not valid. In other cases, travellers trying to return to Canada were denied boarding at the airport because the tickets weren’t paid for.
In one case, the Crown explained that a victim of Solomon’s had to spend several weeks overseas while attempting to raise money for a return ticket because the one he purchased through her agency was not valid.
In another case, a client travelling with three children and a disabled friend were stranded when Solomon maxed out the woman’s credit card.
Solomon has been in custody since November after breaching her bail conditions. So far, she has spent 166 days in jail.
Court heard that Solomon was never legally licensed to sell travel services after buying the agency from a licensed operator. She failed the required examination but operated the business anyway.
Prosecutors and the defence agreed that Solomon will spend the next ten months in jail, in addition to being given credit for eight months time served. She will also be on probation for three years.
Solomon is also expected to pay restitution of $454,397 to her victims. She has agreed to start repaying that amount one month after her release from jail. The monthly amount owing is $12,874.76.
If Solomon doesn’t make the necessary payments, court heard that she will be re-arrested subject to serving another three years in jail.
Among many conditions attached to the agreed sentence, Solomon cannot sell travel or counsel to sell travel.
Justice Oleskiw reserved sentence until May 3 but told court her decision “won’t be a surprise.”
With files from Alana MacLeod