Consumer losses following alleged thefts by a travel agent, previously reported as AUD 200,000, now appear to be nearer AUD 280,000, or 40% higher than originally estimated.
The full extent of travel agent Jordan Dittloff’s alleged theft from his clients has been revealed by the Geelong Advertiser, which was granted access by Geelong Magistrates’ Court to the 51 theft charges filed against the Colac agent, who was also a Rotarian and former Geelong Young Liberals president.
The charges show that between 1 January and 1 June 2015, clients of Ace Travel allegedly lost AUD 39,000, AUD 38,000 and AUD 14,043 – down to the smallest claim of AUD 125. The 51 charges average about AUD 5500 per client.
Notably, Dittloff, 27, is accused of stealing AUD 30,500 from the Colac Scout Group.
The paper reported that police opposed an attempt by Dittloff to keep the matter in the magistrate’s court. Ian Pugh, representing Dittloff, indicated that while his client was “likely” to plead guilty, he would apply to have the matters dealt with by a magistrate, rather than a judge in the higher jurisdiction of County Court.
Prosecutor Raelene Maxwell said police were painstakingly tracking transactions of money in and out of accounts. She contended that although each individual charge was within the range of being heard by a magistrate, the combined offending was too serious and should move to a higher court.
Dittloff will reappear in court on 30 October 2015.
The high-profile case is producing unfortunate publicity for travel agents, as indicated by the newspaper billboard pictured above.
It also, once again, focuses attention on the demise of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) which would have covered all the consumer losses incurred, so that those out of pocket could in many cases have got on with their holidays.
The TCF provided consumer protection, funded by the travel agency industry, at no cost to government or consumers. State governments decided to abolish it.
Written by Peter Needham