Cruise Scam Travel Agents – Carol Ribaudo and Sonja Ritz – Sentenced to Federal Prison! No Vacation for Them!

White collar crime comes in many forms, but this scam is just blatant and destined to produce negative consequences.

CAROL RIBAUDO, 52, and SONJA RITZ, 28, both of Clearwater, Florida were sentenced to 57 months and 37 months respectively in federal prison for their role in a scheme to sell booking to passengers for a fraudulent cruise.


According to the US Attorney’s news release: between July 2003 and January of 2004, Ribaudo and Ritz operated Elite Business Services, a travel-related business located in McKinney, Texas. At trial in August 2007, prosecutors presented the testimony of 30 witnesses and introduced almost 200 exhibits establishing that Ribaudo and Ritz made a series of false representations to prospective passengers indicating that they would be booked on a charter cruise scheduled to occur in February 2004 and accepted payments from these prospective passengers, despite the fact that Ribaudo and Ritz had neither contracted with any cruise line for passage nor had they provided payments to any cruise line.

Now, spending time in federal prison is no vacation. So let me get this straight – these two run a scam for less than 12 months and end up spending between 3 and almost 5 years of their life in prison. You’ve gotta wonder if they would say it was worth it today? The answer would have to be – NO!

Every choice has a consequence. As a white collar crime and business ethics speaker, I speak from first hand experience about the truth about consequences. Reality is – no one escapes the consequences of their choices. While Ribaudo and Ritz avoided the consequences for a time – they did not avoid the consequences all together. Prison is no fun and will prove to be a dramatic change from their prior activities. You do reap what you sow.

If anyone reading has any background on Ribaudo or Ritz or were scammed by them – feel free to comment as I study the behaviors and backgrounds of those convicted of white collar crime.

White Collar Crime Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…

10 Responses to Cruise Scam Travel Agents – Carol Ribaudo and Sonja Ritz – Sentenced to Federal Prison! No Vacation for Them!

  1. anonymous says:

    Has anyone thought that maybe these 2 women are innocent?

    If they intended to scam people, why would they give out their actual contact information? If they were smart enough to rip people off, I doubt they would be stupid enough to stick around to be caught. Most criminals try to cover their tracks, but from what I’ve read, that was not done in this case.

    Take a closer look at the case. No “smoking gun” was ever introduced into evidence. In fact, the FBI failed to retrieve the business records, despite numerous requests to do so from these 2 women, which by the way, would have proven their guilt or innocence. Something is rotten in Denmark here.

  2. Doubt there is something rotten in Denmark. My experience has shown that criminals (unless they are career criminals) do get caught because they do stupid things. More times that not, people who go to jail get there because they are guilty.

    • Just Me says:

      That is not a true statement. If the FBI wouldn’t produce the business records it means they didn’t have all the evidence that they needed. Hmmmmmmm

  3. anonymous says:

    I disagree. How many times have you turned on the news to hear of someone wrongly accused of a crime, yet ended up in prison for one reason or another only to be exonerated years later?

    I think you or someone on your staff should do some research into this case. All the transcripts, exhibits, reports, etc are a matter of public record.

    Unfortunately, innocent people do end up in prison.

  4. one who knows... says:

    The only thing that”s really criminal is the fact that the legal system failed these two. Had they had “ripped” people off they would’ve been able to afford real legal counsel instead relied upon the court appointed defenders and in doing so needed to have the first one replaced. No “real” evidence was ever presented because it was lost and “the professionals” were unable to locate it???? McKinney, Tx. the “good ole boys” network. These people signed contracts and unfortunately these contracts were in a storage unit that somehow the McKinney detectives could not locate??? Right! These women were not allowed to discuss the circumstances in which the unfortunate events occurred due to some hush type order. Ms. Ribaudo’s fiancee committed suicide in her home and after such a tragic event she was unable to fully juggle all the events in her life. She routinely worked with several of these people that the prosecutor is claiming she defrauded. Truth is a “deposit” was non refundable and when 13 of these several hundred people did not get their money back (and they knew full well they weren’t going to) they cried wolf!!! And due to poor record keeping which is the only thing Ms. Ribaudo is guilty of, that and trusting the Texas legal system this is a trumped up case made to look much worse than it actually is. As for the woman claiming to have lost 13k , have any of you out there ever heard of a 13 thousand dollar cruise that wasn’t in the Mediterranean??? Ask yourself why this woman was the only one with a “deposit” in that amount??? I know this because I too was flagged by the prosecutor as having been a victim, but I wasn’t!!! It’s false charges and statements, and the reason why Ms. Ribaudo told the judge she has no intention of serving any time is because she did nothing wrong! After the death of her fiancee and her businesses collapsing she was forced to move things into storage, had this woman had all this money they are accusing her of taking why then did she and her daughter live with friends, use hotel reward points, and were unable to buy medicine they both needed??? The reason why the storage units were lost was because she could not afford to pay the monthly bill. These women never took a vacation, they lived within their means and not extravagantly. And by the way, once I let it be known that I was not a victim and had first hand knowledge of things the prosecutors no longer wanted me as a witness. Sound fishy? I think so. But, it’s the truth.

  5. Athena M. says:

    All i know is that i am hearing one side of the story that sounds to short, and i think the investigation behind this crime is bullshit. Things to know about our little Gov’t is that even when their wrong they are not fair at all. Their is some people in life that bust their ass to run businesses such as this cuz one it makes money and two everyone needs a little get away. These women had been doing the travel business for over ten years and all a sudden they thought ohh let’s turn it in to a scam, i don’t think so. If they really was scamming they would of took one of those travel trips and disappear with everyones money. True it’s in Texas you know how some of those people are. Their ignorant and refuse to face that they wrongfully accused these women are innocent. Texassholes shame on you.

  6. jammas says:

    Well if these two thieves are innocent, then where’s the money? Return it. Do the right thing. Why cheat the innocent people they ripped off? Two crooks better do some time. Tired of crooks.

  7. Formerinmate says:

    I was in prison with both of them and they were still scaming in there. If you ask me if they have learned their lesson I would have to say no. Especialy momma.
    I hope that by the time she is released she shapes up.

    • Just Me says:

      I was in prison with them both as well and I never saw them scamming anyone. I saw a mother and daughter struggling to adjust to an invironment that nobody should ever have to adjust to. They went with out a lot of things…If they were scamming they would of had bank at all times and that was not the case. Please know what you are talking about before you open your mouth.

  8. Sonja Ritz says:

    Hello. Being that I am the subject of your article I found it necessary to comment on this. I served 3 years in prison for a crime I did not commit. The information provided in this article are inaccurate, to say the least. 30 witnesses did not testify. 200 pieces of evidence… It was basically photocopies of the same 20 sheets of paper. The witnesses we had to speak on our behalf were not put on the stand. My attorney did not do his job. Most of the witnesses stated that they didnt think we had done anything wrong. We didnt break any laws. The thing with Conspiracy is… all they have to do is make you think that you might have, at one point, discussed something that you wanted to do. Or not. It doesnt matter at this point. I have served the time that I was ordered to do.

    In response to the comments: To those who are aware of what actually went on, Thank you for voicing your knowledge. We appreciate the support that was/is given. To the comment asking why we dont just return the money… If we had stolen the money, we could have. There never was any money. It was just a bad business deal. Alot of people lost alot of things, including a man’s life. And to the former inmate who states she knew us… I highly doubt that is true.. Anyone can say what they want to behind a screen name. My name is posted as it is, because I have nothing to hide. I never have, which is why our true contact information was always used. Formerinmate, if you feel I did something unjust to you, then I apologize. I cannot make ammends for something I am unaware of.

    Thank you for allowing me to post this.

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