ATLANTA — Oscar Lee Benton, the owner of Benton Travel Group, has been sentenced by DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson to up to 10 days in jail and a $360,000 fine after the Attorney General’s office took him to court for scamming customers and failing to refund the money he had been ordered to pay back to customers. In addition, Judge Johnson established a payment schedule for Benton to pay the remainder of the consumer restitution he is responsible for in the amount of $4,335.
Benton Group Travel, Inc. provided travel services to consumers over the internet and telephone. The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection received and investigated complaints dating back to 2011 against the company for cancelling travel plans and refusing to provide refunds. Since 2012, the Attorney General has filed numerous pleadings in an effort to stop Benton from violating the law and to provide restitution to those consumers who were harmed by Benton’s illegal conduct.
“Mr. Benton has defied the court time and time again,” said Attorney General Sam Olens. “Even while under court orders to pay restitution to afflicted customers, he continued to cheat new, unknowing customers. His brazenness and refusal to follow court orders will not be tolerated. My office has been persistent in our pursuit of Mr. Benton, and we will not let up until he is properly held accountable for his misconduct.”
Victims of Benton’s fraud include a Girl Scout troop that paid Benton Travel, Inc. a total of $6,766 for a trip to Disney World. The payment was to include bus fare, lodging, and amusement park admission for the group of 19 people. On the morning that the troop was to depart their Florida hotel for Disney World, Benton informed them that he did not have the tickets to Disney World. He refused to pay for new tickets, and the troop was unable to visit the amusement park. Benton still has not refunded all of their money.
The Attorney General has filed a separate complaint against Benton for the same type of unfair and deceptive conduct in an effort to provide restitution for additional adversely affected consumers and to ensure that Mr. Benton is prohibited from offering travel-related services to customers in Georgia.