WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Dozens of people trying to book a dream vacation ended up getting scammed, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
- Jaleeann Johnston, 42, charged with fraud, grand theft
- Officials say she scammed 64 customers out of millions
- Johnston is a travel agent at Cruise Link Travel in Winter Haven
A travel agent in Winter Haven has been charged with ripping off customers. Authorities said 64 people were scammed out of a total of $1.6 million.
The sheriff's office said 42-year-old Jaleeann Johnston stole money through her job as an officer manager and travel agent at Cruise Link Travel in Winter Haven. She's accused of using the operational account for personal expenses like shopping, dining, spa and nail salons, bars, fuel, vehicle expenses, and cash withdrawls.
Deputies said she would use other people's bank information and would cover her tracks by blaming other businesses involved in the transactions.
One of the victim's was also an employer, and a relative. The sheriff's office said she lost nearly $1.3 million.
"The biggest victim by far was Johnston's employer, who was also a close relative — her own flesh and blood. She more or less destroyed the woman's business, and brought about substantial monetary losses and grief to her customers," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Johnston's scheme was unsustainable, and her greed just kept burying her deeper."
The investigation began back in November 2018 after one of the victim's received a credit card charge of $13,000.
Investigators also believe there could be more victims.
Johnston remains at the Polk County Jail on several charges including fraud and grand theft.
Lakeland and Bartow police are also investigating Johnston for similar incidents.
(Photo Courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office)