On July 13, the GC Office of General Counsel issued a travel agency fraud warning to conferences, churches, universities, and schools after receiving multiple reports from entities that engaged Insouciance Abroad Travel Agency. This is the GC's second fraud warning regarding the company.
The travel agency is owned and managed by Seventh-day Adventist Peter Lombard. In an email to Spectrum, NAD Director of Communication Dan Weber states that “Lombard, through his agency, has taken financial advantage of many Adventist institutions to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The General Counsel’s warning letter states that several Adventist institutions including “a Conference, a Church, a College and several High Schools” have all reported fraud by Insouciance Abroad.
The letter goes on to state that after paying substantial funds to the travel agency,
[the institutions] all discovered, either right before or during the trip that their airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and/or the excursion arrangements were not paid for by Insouciance Abroad as expected. As a result the parties were left scrambling to make last minute arrangements or had to cancel their trips outright. It has been reported that Peter Lombard and Insouciance Abroad are still marketing their services to Adventist institutions.
The letter strongly urges Adventist institutions to only utilize travel agents that are licensed and bonded. The General Conference is also asking anyone who has an upcoming trip booked through Insouciance Abroad, or has had a similar experience with them in the past, to contact Josue Pierre, associate General Counsel, via email at email@example.com.
The letter in its entirety is included below.
July 18 UPDATE: Peter Lombard has responded to our request for comment and has stated he is preparing a response to these allegations.
July 25 UPDATE: Follow-up communications with Peter Lombard regarding the situation and the statement he previously said he was preparing have gone unanswered.
August 2 UPDATE: Peter Lombard has responded to the allegations with the following statement:
The allegations against Insouciance Abroad engaging in fraud are false. Over the past 12+ years we have worked with hundreds of satisfied groups throughout the church. Over these years we have had trips that have been canceled for various reasons, for which we have always provided refunds. Recently we have had similar cancellations and we are in the process of, or have completed, repayment for each of those trips. We regret the impact these cancellations have had and will ensure that at the very least each traveler receives their full money back.
Alisa Williams is managing editor at SpectrumMagazine.org.
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