Travel agent accused of scamming clients, employer out of $1.6M

Jayleeann Johnston

A Polk County travel agent was arrested for fraud after a year-long investigation into more than a million in missing money, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Jayleeann Johnston, who ran Cruise Link Travel, on Cypress Gardens Road in Winter Haven, is accused of stealing $1.6 million.

Most of that money, $1.3 million, was allegedly stolen from her employer - a relative who owned the travel agency.

Investigators say the rest, $300,000 came from clients.

“She is a crook, a big-time crook. She’ll steal from you. She’ll steal from her relatives,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The sheriff said Johnston falsified checks, wire transfers, and telephone transfers.

“She would rip off anyone. She didn’t care,” explained Judd.

Some of Johnston’s clients paid for trips they did not receive and others were charged for trips they did not want, Judd said, adding 60 people fell victim to her scams.

It started to unravel about a year ago when someone was charged $13,000 for a trip they didn’t want. The sheriff’s office was contacted, an investigation was launched, and Johnston was taken into custody.

On Friday, the doors at Cruise Link Travel was locked up and no one answered the phone.