ST. PAUL, Minn. – The owner of a Waseca travel agency pleaded guilty to defrauding travel agents of more than $ 400,000 in commission payments.
The Minnesota State Attorney’s Office said Matthew Harold Schumacher, 45, defrauded at least 36 travel agents by embezzling about $ 484,000 in payments from travel industry suppliers for his own use. According to court documents, Schumacher attempted to withhold money from his travel agents and lull them into a false sense of security, including providing them with partial payments and giving them materially false and fraudulent information.
Federal investigators say Schumacher touted his hospitality travel business as a reliable and cost-effective way for his paid travel agents to receive higher commission rates from travel industry suppliers, such as airlines, resorts and cruise lines, only if individual travel agents book their clients’ travel arrangements. But court documents indicate that Schumacher then kept the commission payments in one of the following ways:
– Deposit at least approximately $ 160,000 on a personal account
– Funding of at least approximately $ 150,000 for own travel expenses, including trips to Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and several European countries
– Withdrawal of at least approximately $ 33,000 in cash
– The purchase of approximately $ 3,117 worth of electronics from Best Buy, as well as payment for personal expenses, such as retail purchases, restaurant bills, car payments, credit card bills, StubHub ticket purchases and loan repayments.
The case is the result of an FBI investigation.