November 18, 2016
Contact: Richard Loconte, 212-709-1691
ONEONTA TRAVEL AGENT ACCUSED OF STEALING $13,000 FROM COUPLE WHO PLANNED TRIP TO ITALY TO MARK 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
Defendant Arraigned for Fraud after Joint Investigation by Department of Financial Services and Office of Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl
Financial Service Superintendent Maria T. Vullo and District Attorney John M. Muehl today announced the arraignment of an Oneonta travel agent for stealing $13,000 from an Otsego County couple who had paid her to book an overseas trip to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Jane Bardsley Ayre, 46, of the Town of Unadilla, was arraigned Thursday in Town of Oneonta Court on one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, a class E felony.
She was arrested by Department of Financial Services’s (DFS) investigators on Oct. 26 following a joint investigation by DFS’s Criminal Investigations Unit and the office of District Attorney Muehl. The Office of Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr. assisted with the arrest.
Investigators allege that Ayer received money from the couple but never applied it toward the anniversary trip the couple hoped to take to Italy.
Maria T. Vullo, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “DFS is committed to aggressively fighting for honest New Yorkers who are victimized by financial fraud. The Department values its strong working partnership with District Attorney Muehl’s office and commends the District Attorney for aggressively pursuing this case.”
District Attorney Muehl said, “This defendant was brought to justice after she had brazenly stolen money from consumers who had placed their trust in her ability to deliver promised services. It is important for all consumers to know the background of business people they are dealing with before spending thousands of dollars.”
The couple became suspicious after Ayer provided them only vague and incomplete travel information after they had paid to book their trip. They contacted DFS after learning their trip had been cancelled for non-payment.
Investigators allege Ayre received payment from the couple in the form of a check for more than $6,000 and that she charged several thousand dollars against their credit card. The money was meant to pay for air fare and other travel expenses.
Ayer operated travel agencies in Oneonta and Endwell in Broome County.
If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum of up to four years in prison.
District Attorney Muehl will seek restitution as part of the disposition of the criminal charges.
DFS and District Attorney Muehl’s office are continuing the investigation to determine whether other consumers may have been victimized by similar scams. Anyone with information is urged to call DFS’s Frauds Hotline, 212-709-3555, or the office of the District Attorney Muehl, 607-547-4249.