Salem Travel Agency Admits to Selling Travel Agencies in California and Arizona
— Salem Travel Company, which operates the Salem Carousel, announced today that it has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to the state of California and a $50,000 penalty to Arizona in connection with an online advertising campaign that falsely promoted the company’s services to buyers in the two states.
The settlement resolves allegations that the company advertised for travel agencies in California as well as Arizona, and falsely claimed to be a travel agency that would provide travel services to the buyer, according to a press release from the Oregon Attorney General’s Office.
Saless’ website was advertised as offering travel agencies to buyers who did not qualify for any of the states’ travel assistance programs.
It was advertised on multiple websites, including its own website, and was advertised with a link to an online ad from an affiliate agency that the affiliate agency said would provide transportation services to individuals who qualified for state or local assistance, the statement said.
In addition to the settlement, the company agreed to “modify its business practices to comply with applicable law,” the release said.
The company has paid a $2.5 million penalty to California for the violation, and agreed to an additional $50 million fine in addition to an initial $50.5 in civil penalties.
The Attorney General Office also has filed a criminal civil action against Saless for violations of the California False Claims Act, and a criminal complaint against the affiliate agent for the violations.
The company was initially charged with deceptive advertising in connection to the online advertisement, but the complaint against that agent was later amended to include claims that the advertising violated California law.
Saless also is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which is conducting an investigation of the company.
In the settlement agreement, the Attorney General said it “will work with the Oregon Department of Labor to identify any additional enforcement actions that may be required by law.”
The Attorney Gen.’s Office did not identify any potential civil or criminal penalties that would be imposed.
The Oregon Attorney Generals Office did in the past, however, file complaints against Sales for deceptive advertising and advertising violations.
Saless said in a statement to ABC News today that the settlement will help the company reduce its false advertising and improve its business by “preventing future fraudulent and deceptive advertising.”
Saless did not immediately respond to ABCNews.com’s request for comment.
In August 2016, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling against the company that ruled the company was not in violation of the state’s False Claims Code.
The case was filed by a consumer advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, which accused the company of “advertising that it provides travel agencies and other travel services and then providing misleading and deceptive statements about the travel agencies.”
The complaint claimed that the ads falsely claimed that it would “provide transportation services” to buyers.