June 19, 2021

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Just Do Travel

FBI contacts victims of alleged travel scam by Hillsborough County agency

2 min read
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The FBI recently sent letters seeking information from potential victims of...

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The FBI recently sent letters seeking information from potential victims of a former Hillsborough County travel agency.

The move comes two years after more than 120 people reported that Diana Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Travel Services, took thousands of dollars from them for a cruise they never got to take.

Karen Regan and 120 others in her group say they booked a cruise with Hopkins back in 2019 that was supposed to set sail in May.

But shortly after making the reservations, Regan learned the discounted rate they paid was too good to be true.

“Everything was legit. Our reservations were on the Norwegian Cruise Line website when we looked up our account. It was all there,” said Regan. “We all made our full payments, and then we got canceled.”

The allegations prompted Florida regulators to revoke Diana Hopkins’ travel agent license in 2020. She is accused of committing credit card fraud and using other people’s cards to pay the total balance for customer’s trips.

Norwegian Cruise Line canceled all of the reservations and refunded everyone in Regan’s group, but others say they never got their money back.

Now customers of Hopkins Travel Services say the FBI’s Tampa office re-sent them victim notification letters. The letter refers to a “large number of possible victims” identifying Hopkins Travel Services (HTS) as a business that allegedly operated a fraud scheme between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2019.

The FBI letter instructs potential victims to fill out an online questionnaire and provides an email address.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan Lenzner is not involved in the case, but he knows the process.

“In many cases, we seek restitution on behalf of the victims. It’s important for us to be in contact with victims of a fraud scheme so we can ensure victims are made whole at the end of a case,” said Lenzner.

I-Team investigator Jackie Callaway tried to reach Hopkins at her Riverview home and left messages, but Hopkins has yet to respond.

Complicating the case even more, Hopkins filed for bankruptcy after complaints started in 2019. She listed $22,000 in gambling losses out of more than $300,000 in debts.

Anyone dealing with a travel agent complaint in Florida can contact the Florida Department of Consumer Services at www.fdacs.gov.