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Tampa Bay travel agent pleads guilty to defrauding customers, will pay $500K in restitution

Diana Hopkins could face decades behind bars
Posted at 3:30 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 12:59:03-04

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Hopkins Travel Services owner Diana Hopkins peddled cruises through paradise for a fraction of the going rates. She sold the fantasy to Karen Regan, 60 of her friends and others. And then she used customers' money for cruises for herself and her family. A few months after booking “buy one, get one free” packages Norwegian cruise line canceled the trips, accusing Hopkins of committing credit card fraud.

Customers, including Regan, had been told the trip was $7,000. The real price tag was $23,000.

“It was a trip of a lifetime and none of us got to go,” Regan said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida filed charges against Hopkins on March 4, accusing her of selling cruise packages to customers, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars for their trips, and then spending it on herself. Now, according to federal court , Hopkins has agreed to plead guilty.


Hopkins, who lives in Wimauma, was charged with wire fraud, access device fraud, and illegal monetary transactions in connection with her business operations between April 2017 and September 2019. The government said she misrepresented travel deals, made Ponzi-style payments on client’s reservations and used victims’ money to pay for personal and family expenses, including $24,500 for payment on a 2019 Dodge Ram. The financial losses to victims totaled $508,000.

Regan said she and her friends were lucky and got their money back.

“But we still want to see her charged and see her pay for what she did to all of us,” Regan said.

Other customers are still waiting for their money.

Hopkins' attorney Mark O’Brien told ABC Action News in an email: “My client sincerely apologizes for any harm she caused any of her victims. She has worked very hard to process refunds for many of her clients and will continue to do so. She entered her guilty plea because she is guilty. she accepts full responsibility for her actions.”

That responsibility, according to her signed guilty plea agreement, includes making a restitution of $508,883.78 to the victims. The next court date is on April 12 in Tampa where Hopkins is expected to enter a guilty plea. Sentencing is set for 90 days following the hearing. She faces up to 40 years in prison but because she has accepted responsibility, she may not receive the most severe sentence.

The FBI has not said how many victims were involved but anyone who has not yet come forward is asked to file a report with the agency.