Metro-Atlanta travel agency operators charged with fraud scheme
ATLANTA – Elisabeth Greenhill and Jonathan Greenhill have been charged for running a fraud scheme that targeted faith-based and humanitarian groups conducting mission work overseas.
“These defendants allegedly lined their pockets with money that a number of groups had raised to conduct charitable work overseas,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Fraud schemes that target faith-based and humanitarian groups continue to grow in number and complexity. Charitable groups should always make certain that a reputable business is helping them make arrangements for their mission work.”
“There are many people who suffered from this alleged fraud, including the needy, the generous groups who volunteer their time and money, and the travel agencies who provide the means for the good work to reach the needy,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will always make it a priority to prosecute anyone who tries to take advantage of the generosity and kindness of our citizens.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: Elisabeth Greenhill and Jonathan Greenhill operated “Mission Trip Airfare,” a travel agency that specialized in booking trips for faith-based and humanitarian groups conducting mission work overseas. Mission Trip Airfare typically purchased tickets from other travel agencies for its customers.
The indictment alleges that beginning in 2015, the defendants accepted funds from faith-based and humanitarian groups for tickets but failed to send these funds to the travel agencies doing business with Mission Trip Airfare. Instead of paying the travel agencies, the defendants used the client funds for their own personal benefit. Once the travel agencies threatened to stop doing business with Mission Trip Airfare, the defendants began using new customer funds to pay down the outstanding balances with the travel agencies. During this timeframe, the defendants also continued to use customer funds for their own personal benefit. After the faith-based and humanitarian groups started to complain about not receiving tickets, the defendants falsely stated that Mission Trip Airfare was in the process of issuing refunds. The indictment further alleges that the defendants continued to misappropriate customer funds even after the faith-based and humanitarian groups contacted them asking for refunds.
The defendants’ fraud scheme allegedly caused the travel agencies and the faith-based and humanitarian groups to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, the vast majority of which the defendants allegedly used for their own personal benefit.
Elisabeth Greenhill, 55, of Roswell, Georgia was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard. Jonathan Greenhill, 48, of Atlanta, Georgia has not yet been arraigned.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Krepp is prosecuting the case.
Members of the public who believe they were impacted by this scheme are encouraged to contact the FBI at (404) 679-9000.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.