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Avondale Residents say they were Bilked Out of More than $100,000

A dream cruise turned into a nightmare for more than 30 mothers and daughters, including many from Avondale Estates who claim a travel agent took their money

What seemed like a dream mother-daughter cruise turned into a nightmare for more than two dozen Avondale Estates residents when they learned a Florida travel agent never paid for their vacation in full.

Avondale Estates Police Detective Tom Gillis said he learned of the incident after Marifae Jones, the spouse of former Commissioner Frank Jones, reported the wire fraud claim last month.

An Aventura, Fla.-based travel agent, Steve Rodoquino with The International Traveler, collected $137,000 from the group, most of whom were from Avondale Estates, according to Jones.

The mothers and daughters had signed up with Rodoquino for a Viking River Cruise in Europe. However, Viking officials only received a minimal amount per customer for the bookings.

"It’s a once in a lifetime trip," said Jones, who filed the police report. "When we called to talk to him, his phone number was disconnected."

Jones said the trip was to take the group up the Rhine River from Switzerland to Amsterdam, leaving March 27. But now, the group is left with a big mess with no trip. Jones said her group of four is out more than $14,000 apiece.

"We all paid in full," Jones said. "The agent is all over the internet. We’re floored."

While Jones and some of the others are hoping to receive their money back because they paid with credit cards, others -- some who are seniors -- paid with their debit cards.

The ultimate sting, Jones added, is that the agent is still sending them emails.

While Rodoquino has not been officially charged with anything, Gillis said the Avondale Estates Police Department is working closely with the City of Aventura police. Calls to Aventura's police were not returned in time for publication.

While Rodoquino could not be reached for comment, his online LinkedIn profile lists him as president and chief executive of The International Traveler since January, 2003. The profile also states that he has an MBA from the University of Miami and a bachelor's from Montclair State University in New Jersey.

There are no other jobs listed. Rodoquino also has no recommendations from others he's either worked with or worked for, which is a fairly common addition to a profile on LinkedIn.

Danny November 17, 2011 at 12:02 AM
You can't open it unless you are a member, Sarina.
Danny November 17, 2011 at 12:05 AM
D.O.V ... you may add a comment to the following : http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/rodoquino/13/1319765637/tpod.html
Judith Orput December 09, 2011 at 06:41 AM
Fight every way you can. Last I heard this summer was that the secret service was finally getting into his bank statements. The agent told me he was the most agnorant man he had ever met. We can't give up.
Jack December 18, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Will someone explain to these people that they can be sued and/or prosecuted for slander and defamation by publishing public accusations of "scamming" and theft in the absence of any crime being committed and proven?
Ms. December 19, 2011 at 05:09 PM
These people paid for goods and services, and their money wasn't directed to the things they were paying for through this individual. These are not isolated incidents, and considering the secret service is involved, I'm inclined to believe they know more about this than you. scam [skam]   Origin scam   [skam] Show IPA noun, verb, scammed, scam·ming. noun 1. a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.

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