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Families still seeking money from Jacksonville man who pled guilty in nationwide travel scheme

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An update to a News4Jax I-TEAM investigation centered on a man who has now pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud, admitting to stealing nearly $800,000 in a nationwide travel scam.

Juan Arteaga had no comment when News4Jax questioned him after his federal court appearance on Wednesday.

Arteaga admitted in federal court that he took clients’ money for vacations that were never booked. He faces up to 20 years in prison and as part of the plea agreement, will have to pay back $779,000 in restitution to the victims. Records show his scam was from at least 2018 to 2019 and involved more than 100 victims.

We’re also hearing from a family owed money by Arteaga aside from this criminal case.

We spoke to the daughter of the late Lake Ray the Second a Jacksonville businessman who gave Arteaga $80,000 for a trip to Europe in 2004, but the travel wasn’t booked. The family won a civil lawsuit meaning a judge ordered Arteaga to pay back the family but they’ve only seen a fraction of the money.

“He still owes about $64,000,” said Lori Yarborough. “And of course, this is $64,000 of 2005 money. So it’s not worth so but I’m very upset that I don’t think we’ll ever see any of this money. And I promised my dad on his deathbed, that I would go after this. As long as I live, bring it on to my kids.”

Yarborough wanted federal prosecutors to take up her father’s case but they say it is past the statute of limitations for prosecution.

Arteaga is out on bond awaiting sentencing that date has not yet been set.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.