A southern Minnesota travel agent stole nearly $500,000 in commissions owed to other agents and then used the money to pay for his own globe-trotting, electronics, restaurant bills and ticketed entertainment, according to federal authorities.
Matthew H. Schumacher, 44, of Waseca, was indicted Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on four counts of wire fraud in connection with the scheme he allegedly carried out for nearly 2 ½ years until January 2019 as owner-operator of Travel Troops and Vacation Agent Nation.
Schumacher is scheduled to be in court on Jan. 4. He declined to comment Wednesday about the allegations.
Most travel agents are independently employed. However, in order to book flights, they require credentials, and those can cost upward of $100,000. So most independent agents hire a host agent, such as Schumacher, who holds the credentials and collects commissions from airlines, resorts and cruise companies.
According to the indictment:
As a host agent, Schumacher provided training, sales support and marketing assistance to independent agents across the country. He promised to deliver higher commissions to the agents than they could receive individually.
But instead of turning over the commissions to 36 agents in all, he kept about $484,000 for himself. He spent at least $150,000 on trips to Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and various European countries.
He also deposited $160,000 into a personal bank account, bought more than $3,100 in electronics from Best Buy, made other retail purchases, paid credit card bills, restaurant tabs and bought tickets through StubHub.
Star Tribune Travel editor Kerri Westenberg contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482