Travel agent acquitted of all charges

| 24/05/2016 | 53 Comments
Cayman News Service

Sea2Sky door

(CNS): A former travel agent who faced 29 counts of deception after more than two dozen people bought flights from her but were unable to travel because she didn’t pay the ticket bill has been found not guilty of all charges. It took a jury of four women and two men just a few hours to decide that Ingrid Scott (44) had not intentionally deceived her customers at Sea2Sky Travel and acquitted her of obtaining around $25,000 by deception.

In a case that appeared to be much more about very poor business practices than criminality, the jury heard that Scott had lost her own home trying to keep the travel agency afloat and had not profited from the money she had taken for tickets but never bought.

The business issues related mostly to the fact that Scott was giving credit to customers who could not afford to travel and was effectively “paying Peter to pay Paul”, as it was described by one of the officer’s in the case. By the summer of 2012 the credit scheme collapsed and around 25 people who had given Scott cash for tickets found there were no tickets waiting for them at the airport as promised.

Scott had taken money from the clients, sometimes up front and sometimes in installments, and then had reserved their seats. But because she was operating a system of actually buying tickets only at the very last minute, she did not use the cash given by customers for their flights immediately. Instead, Scott would cover the cost of other clients’ fares who were travelling before them, creating an unintended pyramid scheme in which she was not making any profit.

With continual cash flow problems, the travel agency she owned with Velma Sully, who was the 51% partner to Scott’s 49%, became swamped in debt. Sully, who was never charged in the case, was aware of the credit scheme Scott was operating. Sully had also taken out loans and injected considerable capital into the business, which operated for just over two years without making a profit or even paying the women a salary.

With the debt out of control because so many customers were not paying in full, Scott took out a $125,000 loan using her home as collateral to pay off the debts to ticketing agencies, IATA and Cayman Airways. While that cash injection set the business back on a sound footing for a while, it did not last long and the debts soon began mounting again. Scott went on to lose her home when she defaulted on the $125k loan because the women were never able to collect the money owed to them.

The poor management practices and the unsustainable free credit scheme continued, as Scott used her discretion to help customers who were struggling to find the money for their flights. Eventually, however, things came to a head.

Scott admitted in court that she did not buy the tickets in time for the people who were unable to fly after the business reached a crisis point. When she gave evidence, she said she had always intended to buy the tickets as more cash came into the agency. But the credit system collapsed when she was no longer able to collect new money to pay for old tickets after her business partner locked the doors on the business.

Scott admitted that she had failed to buy the tickets in time even after taking cash from each one of the individuals concerned but she said that it had never been her intention to deceive anyone. Scott told the court that she was trying desperately hard to collect on the debt.

But with so many customers who had been issued with tickets and taken their trips without paying the full amount, the debts became so great that Scott and her partner were unable to meet all of their obligations.

Despite her best intentions to buy all of the tickets in time, the scheme came crashing down in the summer of 2012 when travelers were left stranded at the airport and Scott was subsequently arrested.

Although she had admitting taking cash from customers, the jury found that there was no criminal intent and after just over two hours returned a not guilty verdict on all the charges.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (53)

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  1. Foolish Fool Fooler says:

    So the message and precedent that Cayman citizens, courts, judicial system and society wish to set here is…it is absolutely okay to steal. Hell, it’s societally, legally and publically supported and encouraged…as long as you have a reason.

    Now, let’s all get thinking of our reasons:

    1. My daughter is ill
    2. My husband left me and I have to take care of the poor, innocent kids
    3. I lost my job
    4. All my friends have flashier cars than me
    5. I have a mortgage payment to make, or I’ll lose my house
    6. I have child support payments to drink
    7. I have a holiday payment instalment to make, or else I’ll be laughed at by my friends
    8. I have education/health/utilities bills and fees to pay
    9. I owe money to a previous creditor as a result of a previous legal judgement against me.

    This is what this court case did. This is what you did jurors – made all of the above legal. So, get to it Cayman – steal, pillage, siphon, borrow (oh, I’ll return it alright), embezzle, confiscate, deceive, con, smuggle and generally take what is not yours – it’s a legal bonanza! It’s all acceptable.

    PS, I am raffling a Ferrari (PPS there is no Ferrari). Tickets are CI$100 each and everyone wins – everyone (unless I decide to extend my house – which I will). Please send your money to Corrupt Cayman Con Criminal, PO Box 666, Hell.

    Sincerely,

    Cayman Kind

    PPPS, I don’t give a rat’s ass about my intended victims, but then neither does Cayman justice and it’s legal system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Foolish Fool Fooler I could not have said it better. This is exactly the message that the citizens of Cayman believe in, the message they send to their children (unless of course you are an expat then get out the pitchforks!), the message that the government sends and the message of a jury of your peers.
      This is indeed the place to commit your crimes and get away with it with a sad sob story.
      So pathetic.

  2. Sharkey says:

    I wonder if all the victims can file civil suits against the travel agent / owner, or that just Cayman Jucetice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think she would have gotten off with a judge too. Looks like the prosecution failed to prove that she intended not to deliver at the time she took the payments. Being a really poor businesswoman is not a crime. This looks like simple breach of contract after the fact, which, even if intentional, is not a crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      being a bad business woman is not a crime, but continuing your business when you know your company is insolvent is a crime

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but if they’d prosecuted everyone who has done that in the past half the local business community would have ended up in jail.

    • Anonymous says:

      Representing that money would be used for the consumer’s purpose and then using it for short term corporate funding is deception.

  4. Cayguy says:

    Sets a bad precedent for one.

  5. Sharkey says:

    I guess that everyone needs to be very careful about who they give their money to thinking that they are buying something in Cayman because deception do work in Cayman justice system.

  6. Sharkey says:

    29 different accounts for deception charges, and not a one of those guilty , I wonder how many different definitions for deception is there in Cayman .

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the test is whether the deception was markedly worse than the acceptable level of endemic fraud and corruption.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Despite all the debts was Sea2Sky Travel never put into any sort of bankruptcy? There seem to be a lot of allegations flying around here but was there no audit or examination of accounts? How much money do they still owe? It seems a very odd way to deal with this and leaves way too many questions unanswered. It’s not the first time RCIPS have been called in to settle what was largely a civil financial matter and every time it happens the result is at best questionable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who would force the bankruptcy? Not sure Cayman has such laws here.

      • Anonymous says:

        1:45 That’s a really dumb comment.

        Cayman Islands bankruptcy law is principally codified in five statutes and statutory instruments:

        1. the Bankruptcy Law (1997 Revision)
        2. the Companies Law (2013 Revision)
        3. the Companies Winding Up Rules 2008 (as amended)
        4. the Insolvency Practitioners’ Regulations 2008 (as amended)
        5. the Foreign Bankruptcy Proceedings (International Cooperation) Rules 2008

        And I got all that off Wikipedia!

        • Anonymous says:

          But the fees to wind up a company are an oppressive barrier to consumer rights in such cases. It costs $15,000 in Court fees.

        • Diogenes says:

          It’s not a dumb comment at all. Sure, there is a mechanism for placing companies into liquidation. But guess what, absent a business regulated by CIMA the only way the business would be placed in to liquidation is if one of the creditors or the shareholders decided to petition the court, which costs a lot of money. So the essence of the posters comment is entirely right. In a small business collapse like this chances are no formal liquidation or proper investigation of how the business was conducted and whether there is any civil liability.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Meantime Michelle Bouchard was given 12 years for using money from the account she was legally a co-owner. A joint account means just that-any owner can draw or deposit funds without the involvement or consent of the other owners.

    • Just saying says:

      Ms. Bouchard is a coldhearted, unscrupulous and greedy woman and you simply cannot compare her to Ms. Scott. When Ms. Bouchard finishes her time and goes back to Canada she can live comfortably off of what her father hid for her or did you miss that part. Ms. Scott doesn’t have a home anymore, she didn’t purchase a $200,000 ring and got expensive plastic surgery. She is a poor businesswoman with a big heart and business and a big heart DO NOT GO TOGETHER NOT EVEN IN THE SAME SENTENCE ask anyone who runs a successful business.

      • I'm incompetant-lend me dollar. says:

        Being an incompetent fool does not make all of your otherwise illegal actions legal. You bloody fools.

        • anonymous says:

          except that incompetence in this case is the defence i.e. deception (what she was charged with) can only take place with intention – her defence is there was no intention just incompetence, I am no legal eagle but perhaps the problem is that the wrong charges were brought? If she had been charged with theft instead of deception would their have been a different outcome?

        • Diogenes says:

          Except it does! For criminal liability you need a conscious intent or reckless disregard knowing your actions are wrong. If you are simply incapable or incompetent you may be civily liable but it’s not criminal. You need to be careful who you call a bloody fool when you clearly have no understanding of the criminal law – the one that’s written down, not the one you think should apply.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because she actually finally gained from that money and was motivated by that personal greed. Seems to me that speaks to intent.

  9. Anonymous says:

    maybe the court should go after the people who didn’t pay for their tickets despite the credit they were afforded? smacks to me more of a sense of entitlement to free tickets from those that contributed to the business’s cash flow situation… things are about to change…. thankfully!

  10. Anonymous says:

    And yet we jail a soccer Mom from the USA over a hotel bill dispute…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Im Shocked! This is theft pure and simple from the moment she took their money and the client THOUGHT they had a ticket.
    There are guidelines for Airlines ticket sales and they are governed by BSP RULES and Regulations..

    The Agent’s TSP transmits the information regarding the issued tickets daily to the DPC. Once the DPC
    receives the data from the TSP, the DPC:
    • Processes all relevant data and produces an ‘Agents Billing Analysis’ for each Agent. This analysis is
    compiled from the information of one or more reporting periods.
    • Forwards to each BSP Airline an analysis of sales made by Agents on its behalf.
    The Agent makes a single net periodic remittance covering all its BSP transactions, made on behalf of all BSP Airlines. The BSP preferred method of payment is by electronic funds transfer (EFT) or direct debit (DD).

    7.1 Cancelled STDs and/or Voided Coupons STDs, even when cancelled, must be accounted for. Ticketing Systems Suppliers are required to report any cancelled or voided STDs on the same day as the day of issuance and in that day’s sales report generated by such Ticketing System Provider to the Data Processing Centre. BSP Airlines may agree at the Passenger Agency Conference to levy a charge on Agents to recover the costs associated with excessive voiding of STDs. Prior to the introduction of such a fee, the endorsement of the Travel Agent Association(s) will be secured through the medium of the JALWG.

    So if she was fined by the IATA and Airlines, She KNEW the sales guidelines.

  12. Anonymous says:

    cayman justice…..just another day in wonderland…..zzzzzzzzzz

  13. Anonymous says:

    The prosecutor has to appeal this. Its outrageous.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Are there civil cases to follow?

  15. Anonymous says:

    If this is not criminal (and it is) it should be.

  16. SSM345 says:

    The woman was operating a Ponzi scheme ffs how has she not been found guilty?

  17. Anonymous says:

    But but but I am speechless. You should have had another Travel Agent as a witness against her. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years and never ever would this be allowed to happen in a normal regular solvent agency. I do not believe a word of this.
    Now maybe she can go back to the UK and live on the dole again. I wouldn’t show my face on this island if I were her. And that’s sad because she is a lovely person. But being lovely doesn’t pay the bills.
    Sorry, but why give credit when you are a struggling business??

  18. Anonymous says:

    I clearly see an intent to deceive customers. She knew she could not buy tickets yet, she continued taking money.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Notwithstanding her “intent”, she did commit a crime. She took money from clients and failed to provide the services; that is theft.
    She was fortunate that she had a soft-hearted jury to believe her.
    Would like to know if she had already reimburse those clients or has she been issued a court order to do so?

    • Anonymous says:

      This offense requires intent so you cannot say notwithstanding intent … DPP has to prove intent!

  20. Allar says:

    From day one I saw an aquittal in this case, well done jury panel

  21. Maggie Archer says:

    So the customers just lost their money. It doesn’t seem fair at all.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Several years ago the Government was considering the abolition of the jury system. The result in this case should let us all consider whether it is time to so reform our judicial system.

  23. Annie says:

    Wow, crazy verdict.. I am sorry for her personal loss, and good intentions, but by definition it was indeed a Ponzi scheme, and illegal.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Another day another crazy Cayman jury decision. This woman was given customer money to use for a specific purpose and she used it to keep her failing business afloat instead.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It’s called a ponzi scheme
    Plain and simple

  26. Kindness Loses says:

    This is what happens when people take advantage of kindness. When running a business, you can’t let your customers push you over and give you some sad story to get the goods and services. Money is the life blood of business and you have to collect it! Forget about kindness because it will take the food off your table, or in this case – your very house.

    I’m sorry this happened. This is similar to what is happening with the Health Services Authority, but on a much larger scale. The only difference is that the government gives them capital injections annually.

    I hope both women will recover from their financial losses eventually.

  27. Anonymous says:

    ? If you take money from people and don’t deliver the promised service then it is theft, fraud, deception, call it what you want. Bad business practice is no excuse, bad business people ultimately end up screwing their clients. Now this just gives a license for more people to do the same. Cayman, you are screwed up.

    • Anonymous says:

      So meaning to say as long u can help people that cannot afford to pay their tickets you will be aquited if you cant give to those real people that pays alredy their tickets sucksss!! What kind of justice syytem we have here in cayman

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