Fraud Charges Worth $1.6 Million Lead to Polk Woman's Arrest


WINTER HAVEN -- A woman is accused of ripping off the travel agency where she worked as office manager, and dozens of its customers out of $1.6 million dollars.

Polk sheriff's detectives say 42 year old Jaleann Johnston's biggest victim was her relative, who ran the agency, losing one point three million through checks and bank transfers. They say Johnston moved that money through Florida Best Peaches and Cruise Link Travel, which were owned by that relative, and through accounts with Citizens Bank and Trust, CenterState Bank, and TD Bank.

The investigation began in November of 2018, when a customer of the travel agency reported that they put down a $339 deposit on a cruise but didn't get the cruise or a refund. One of the people who was supposed to go along on the cruise received a $13,000 credit card charge.

Johnston has bonded out of jail. Lakeland and Bartow police have launched their own investigations.

Photo: Polk Sheriff's Office

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