CHICAGO — A Chicago mother who helped her daughter and her friends save up for months to take a cruise says she’s been scammed out of thousands of dollars.
Lakeshia Frazier fears there could be more victims out there.
After paying about $13,000 for what she thought was a travel package for the group to celebrate their graduation from high school with a trip to the Bahamas, Frazier said a fake travel-planning company took her money.
She and the teens were left stranded on the Miami shoreline as the Carribean-bound cruise ship they thought they had booked sailed away into the horizon.
“This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for all of those kids. They was really looking forward to going to the Bahamas, because a lot of them haven’t traveled before,” said Frazier.
The group of high school friends and their parents saved their money for 10 months to pay for the trip, which they were told would include flights to Miami. Once they arrived at the Miami port on June 15 to depart for the Bahamas on a Carnival Cruise ship, the ticket agent delivered the devastating news.
“’I’m sorry to say, it looks like you guys have been scammed,’ because they had a situation like that before where they had a group of people come for a cruise, and they’re not even booked on the cruise,” said Frazier, recounting the conversation she had at the ticket desk.
She booked the trip back in November with a Florida-based company called Legendary Journeys that billed itself as a travel-booking service.
But it turns out the “company” booked the flights to Miami, but not the tickets for the cruise.
The Better Business Bureau has received 138 complaints about customers not receiving refunds for canceled vacations, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has received more than 180 complaints.
Legendary Journeys went out of business at the end of last year, but Frazier has invoices for the monthly payments she’s been making to the company all year.
“It was supposed to have been a trip of a lifetime, but it was a disaster for everyone,” said Frazier.
A Florida court appointed attorney Larry Hyman to liquidate assets to pay those who have filed claims against the shuttered business.
When reached by phone Tuesday, June 19, he said: “Based on the information you have provided to me, I have reason to believe that someone is fraudulently representing that they are Legendary Journeys and collecting monies.”
Hyman said he’s investigating, and fears there could be more victims.
The Florida Attorney General has received about 85 complaints since January. When asked how a (closed) company could be collecting money for trips, a spokesperson would only say they have an active consumer protection investigation taking place.
A Carnival Cruise spokesperson told us they’re looking into what they called an “unfortunate situation.”