Instead of Trip to Italy, Teens Got an 'Unpleasant Surprise'

Suit claims supposed agent never booked NJ seniors' vacation, despite them paying in advance
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2023 10:10 AM CDT
Updated Sep 16, 2023 5:30 AM CDT
Teens at Airport for 'Trip of a Lifetime' Were In for a Shock
Screenshot from FOX 5 report on the nixed trip.   (YouTube/FOX 5)

Seniors from a New Jersey high school showed up at Newark Liberty International Airport on June 26, ready to fly overseas for a "Jewels of Italy" trip before heading off to jobs and college. Instead, they got what the Daily Beast calls a most "unpleasant surprise": the discovery that the plane tickets they'd paid for didn't exist, according to a new complaint. "These students lost out on a lifetime of memories which can never be recovered," an attorney who filed the lawsuit for 18 of the travelers from Whippany Park High School tells NJ Advance Media.

All together, the plaintiffs put about $70,000 toward the nine-day trip, per the complaint, which alleges that travel agent Rose Fazzolari (aka Rose Martinez Fazzolari) and her companies, Exclusively Yours Worldwide Travel and Ablex, took the cash sent to her via Venmo or Zelle but never booked the trip to Rome, Naples, Sorrento, and Sicily—a tour arranged annually by an Italian teacher at the high school who wasn't named in the suit. About a dozen or so travelers said they were actually able to get on board the outgoing flight to Naples, but then found once they got to Italy that other legs of their trip weren't paid for—including the plane ride back to Newark.

In a Zoom call the day after the airport debacle, Fazzolari insisted that what had happened had been an "error" and said she'd rebook the trip for July 5, but that trip was ultimately canceled. The suit alleges that, while some families have received partial refunds, Fazzolari "failed to remit payments to the entire group" and "failed to provide a full refund." Each family forked over about $4,000 ahead of the trip. Fazzolari's attorney says she's "working tirelessly" to arrange to pay back all of the seniors, and that she's "heartbroken" over what happened.

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Some of the students, many of whom had saved their money via part-time jobs or accepted their parents' financial help in lieu of a graduation present, expressed their disappointment to FOX 5 on how they felt after their "trip of a lifetime" fell through. "We've been planning it since our freshman year," one student tells the news outlet. Hanover Township cops say they're working in tandem with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office to investigate what happened. Much more here on the suit, which claims this "is not the first, or the only group scammed by the defendant and her entities." (More lawsuit stories.)

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