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Travel agent arrested for scamming customers

September 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles travel agent is facing grand theft charges, accused of taking customers' money and not buying the plane tickets she promised them. Some travelers were stuck in Los Angeles, while others were stranded overseas.

16 people said they were defrauded by a Hollywood travel agency.

"They would buy the tickets in cash, they would receive a voucher, which simply was a confirmation of a reservation for a flight. It was not a ticket," said Capt. Bill Murphy of theLos Angeles Police Department.

On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of Alvard Davtyan, 48, of Glendale. They said she sold bogus tickets to Armenian customers; most of the trips were to Armenia, Russia, and other parts of Europe. One of her customers said he booked a trip to Germany through Davtyan's agency and ended up being out $3,000.

"I was very angry. I went to the travel agency, and it was closed, there was written 'out of business.' She's a terrible, terrible person, she's a liar," said Arutyun Kasamanian, a customer.

Many of the victims didn't find out about the fraud until they showed up to the Tom Bradley international terminal at LAX. But in some other cases, passengers were stranded in other countries, because their return tickets to the U.S. were never purchased.

"She would give the victims a copy of this reservation and then never book the ticket, so the airline company would never have evidence of a ticket ever being purchased," Det. Shon Wells of the LAPD.

Davtyan also allegedly used other people's credit cards to book tickets through a wholesaler.

"She promised us she was going to pay us, which we haven't been paid for and the credit card she's been using she hasn't charged back. We're out more than $70,000," said Vinay Gandhi, manager of Riviera Travel and Tours.

Davtyan faces more than 17 felony counts. She is set to be arraigned Wednesday.

Police urge anyone else who thinks they might be a victim to call (877) LAPD-24-7.

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