Waseca man sentenced to prison for travel agency scheme

Jan. 13 – A Waseca man received a two-year prison term and was ordered to pay about $479,632 in restitution after pleading guilty to wire fraud this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Matthew Harold Schumacher, 46, was originally indicted in 2020 for “fraudulently misappropriating nearly $500,000 in commission payments earned by dozens of small business travel agents,” according to court filings.

The scheme is reported to have taken place between August 2016 and January 2019 while he was the owner of a hotel travel agency called Travel Troops. A legitimate host travel agency, court records say, gives smaller travel agencies access to major travel suppliers from hotels to tour operators to airlines in exchange for a fee.

“Unfortunately for his victims, there was little about Schumacher’s business that resembled a legitimate travel host agency,” prosecutors said in a filing. “… Schumacher regularly kept his travel agents’ money, made their hard-earned commission payments for his own benefit, misled them, and left them behind when they complained or demanded they their money.”

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At least 36 people have been identified as victims in the scheme.

Schumacher marketed Traveling Troops as a veteran-owned business with values ​​”he sought to learn as a six-year veteran of the United States Army,” the filing states. He used dog tags on the company logo and had the slogan “No Agent Left Behind.”

Prosecutors said his claims about his military record were false.

Victims described being devastated by his fraudulent scheme. A person identified by “TM” said in court filings that he lost two years of income and work, forcing them “to claw back to where I was able to stand on my own two feet.”

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Another person, identified as “JB,” told the court that Schumacher “trusted me and was completely smitten with him.”

With the money, Schumacher reportedly used $150,000 for his own travel expenses, took another $33,000 in cash and paid for personal expenses including retail purchases, restaurant bills, car payments and more.

Assistant US Attorney Matthew S. Ebert argued that Senior Judge Ann D. Montgomery should give Schumacher a 27-month sentence. Schumacher’s defense attorney, Matthew D. Forsgren, argued that he receive probation with conditions.

In a filing, Forsgren described Schumacher as a devoted father of two grown children who sought psychotherapy to treat his mental illness and a recovery program to treat his alcoholism. He reportedly earns $100,000 a year at his job at Camping World in Jordan and had repaid more than $30,000 to victims as of early December.

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He apologized to his victims in a filing, saying he knew he had violated their trust.

“My goal is to pay back every dollar I took from you,” he said. “I hope in time you can find it in your heart to forgive me for what I have done, but I know this will take time as my actions follow my words, and maybe that this will never happen for some people, and I get this too. For all this, I am truly sorry for all of you.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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