Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh NO! They DIDN'T!



They did, and it was awful. Just awful.

Two guys, Steve Lear and Scott Adams cooked up a company called A Plus American Vacations. They accepted lots of deposits and payments. You are correct if you are thinking "I bet they skipped".

It's heart-wrenching, too. Some of the stories are so sad, that one commentor is recommending the death penalty. (eek!)

You know how hard we all save to get out of the house and take that vacation, so you can imagine how it would feel to wake up one morning thinking everything is fine and so looking forward to your trip ~ and then you get a phone call, email, or a letter in your mailbox informing you that, uh, your reservation has been canceled and there is, gulp, no refund.

Here's my conjecture of how their operation worked:
  • They didn't have a brick and mortor store, nor a website.
  • They either really did have a unit(s) to rent, or they made up a unit(s) to rent.
  • They listed these units (real or phantom) on www.VacationRentals.com (and other websites belonging to HomeAway.com) as available for booking.
  • They only accepted checks as payment.
  • They left with the money, informing the ex-guests that they were in foreclosure, etc.
It was really very simple. It really was too easy. Steve and Scott told people they were a company. There are 15 people or more (who have come forward) out a couple of thousand apiece. Many more details will come to light, but the basic premise of what Steve and Scott were doing appears to be pure premeditated theft.

It's all over TripAdvisor and the news. I'm guessing this: (Click Here) was on the air on Thursday, June 25th, 2009.

There was one report that the Sevierville Police Department was telling folks "it could turn out to be a civil case". That's assumed to be policespeak for "you have to get your own lawyer". But: DANGIT. If lying and defrauding people isn't criminal, then something is very wrong and disturbed with the way my mind works.

If this turns out to be a well-planned scam, we can only pray that the POWERS THAT BE (that was screamed ~ but i'll whisper "Tennessee Real Estate Commission" and the "Attorney General's Office") will get off their well-fed asses and work to promote and pass laws that protect the public instead of allowing the Legislature to argue over a saggy pants ban.

(Isn't Scott Adams the Dilbert artist?)

UPDATE 11/29/2010:
They've been CAUGHT! Click HERE to read Jamie Satterfield's story in the Knoxville News Sentinel!

KnoxNews link:
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/nov/28/fraud-schemer-strikes-plea-deal-provides-names/

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