Owner of West Tennessee Travel Agency Sentenced to 27 Months Imprisonment for Wire Fraud
Jackson, TN – A West Tennessee woman was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for wire fraud. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee announced the sentence today.
According to the charging instrument, Ronda Hopkins Richards, 55, was the owner of Ronda’s Travel Corner, in Jackson, TN. From November 2016 to July 2017, Richards defrauded approximately 100 clients/victims of funds related to their travel. In some cases, Richards enticed the victims to pay cash for a trip that was never booked. In other instances, she booked air travel for victims, but did not provide lodging at the destination for which the victim had pre-paid.
On June 19, 2017, Richards convinced a client to write a $17,172.00 check to Ronda’s Travel Corner for a family trip to Disney World. The trip was scheduled for March 24, 2018, through March 31, 2018. Richards never booked the trip, but instead deposited the check into her own personal account at First South Bank and used the funds for her personal gain.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: "The defendant’s greed and selfishness has victimized countless innocent citizens who trusted her, and she is now being held accountable for her dishonest and fraudulent conduct. Hopefully, this sentence will achieve justice by deterring other similar criminal conduct, and the restitution order will recover the funds stolen from the victims."
This transaction caused a wire transmission of $17,172.00 to occur in interstate commerce, between the victims’ bank, Greenfield Banking Company, Greenfield, TN, through the Federal Reserve Check Clearing Center located in Atlanta, GA, and then to First South Bank in Jackson, TN. This interstate transmission resulted in the crime of wire fraud. Over 100 of Ronda’s Travel Corner clientele were victims of similar schemes. Because of this scheme, the victims lost a total of approximately $410,280.25.
On August 3, 2017, Richards was interviewed by the Jackson Police Department. She stated that she had fallen behind in her payments and began taking money, did not keep up with what she had taken and "everything spiraled out of control."
Richards pleaded guilty to this charge on February 26, 2018. On August 3, 2018, U.S. District Chief Judge S. Thomas Anderson sentenced Richards to 27 months imprisonment; 3 years supervised release; $100.oo special assessment and restitution in the amount of $410,280.25.
For more information, or if there are other victims who have not made their losses known, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office Victim/Witness Coordinator at 901-544-4231.
This case was investigated by the Jackson Police Department and the United States Secret Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor L. Ivy prosecuted this case on the government’s behalf.