PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All they wanted was to take a free trip. Instead they’re now among hundreds of hopeful travelers who were ripped off, and it all started with an offer on a postcard.
The brochures said things like “Pack Your Bags!”, and “Cruise the Nights Away!” Sounded good to Shirley Brooks Boyd. After all, she tells us that she loves traveling and all she’d have to do was listen to a 90 minute travel presentation at this Egg Harbor office building and she’d get a trip for free! With one catch. She says, “you have to pay the taxes separately and you have to pay taxes on the airlines, so that seemed reasonable to me.” But after shelling out $598 dollars to a company called Away We Go Promotions, Shirley says, “I never got on a trip. Those people took my money and kept going!”
“My purpose was to hear the 90-minute presentation and possibly get the free trip,” says Joe Holden, “I never suspected anything when we went down.” But after he and his wife Kathleen sent in their $598 dollar fee, they never got a trip either. Kathleen says, “You just can’t trust what people tell you.”
Shirley and the Holden’s sent their money to a Center City office building. Joe says, “We thought we were dealing with people at 17th and Market Street.” Little did they know it was merely a mailbox drop.” According to Lance Haver, Philadelphia Consumer Advocate, “A lot of companies now use UPS boxes or some other type of box to create a false address.” In fact Away We Go was just a small piece of a much larger puzzle. Haver says, “They start with one name of a company, and then when the officials come after them they close down that company and set up another company.”
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Since 2007, using names like Away We Go, Dreamworks Vacations, Bentley Travel, Blue Water, La Bonne Vie Travel and Five Points Travel Company, The New Jersey Attorney General’s office says owner Daryl Turner ripped off hundreds of would-be travelers.
Tom Calcagni, Acting Director for the Division of Consumer Affairs says, “He’s shut down, he can’t operate in the state of New Jersey in the vacation industry for at least five years.” In a recent settlement with the state Turner is now responsible for returning over two million dollars to consumers. Calcagni says, “It’s really a license for us to investigate and seize assets and that’s what we intend to do until all consumers are made whole, for however long that takes”
When 3-On Your Side visited Turner’s Cherry Hill, New Jersey home, no one answered the door. But based on the Mercedes, Range Rover and newly registered Bentley in his driveway, Away We Go and his other companies allowed Turner to go everywhere in style.
In addition to the New Jersey settlement, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is currently is suing Daryl Turner too and is conducting an on-going investigation. The Attorney General’s office wants to hear from Pennsylvania residents and those who were ripped off by Turner using any of his Pennsylvania businesses, including Away We Go.
You may click on the links to file complaints in New Jersey and/or Pennsylvania.
New Jersey Attorney General’s Office: http://www.nj.gov/oag/ca/comp.htm
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/complaints.aspx?id=451
Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3