WARREN, Mich. - After their all-inclusive resort vacations to Jamaica were canceled, at least two women allege a travel agent out of Warren scammed them out of thousands.
"This is gonna be fun, absolutely," Audrey Ridgell recalls thinking when she booked the trip. "But then it became a nightmare."
Ridgell, a 58-year-old from Brownstown was looking forward to a relaxing trip last November that she won't get to enjoy. But what's on her mind are the $1,900 she's concerned she won't get to enjoy either. Nephus Gayden of NG Travel Agency hasn't refunded her the money after it was canceled.
Calling Gayden a "crook" and a "con-artist," Ridgell has received three dates from the travel agent promising to refund the money: Dec. 27, Jan. 3, and Jan. 11. The money never came.
"The guy has been avoiding me pretty much," she said. "He has refused to give me any information on the trip insurance, the name of the company, the telephone number."
It's not only Ridgell concerned. Also feeling duped is 33-year-old Brittany Shavois from Detroit who shelled out $4,000 for her family to take the same trip with about 20 others. After the vacation was canceled, Shavois asked for her money back. Her experience mimic's that of Ridgell's.
"He actually put us in a group message. He won't respond to a text, won't answer the phone, nothing," said Shavois.
A background search on Gayden reveals he's filed for bankruptcy five times since 1993. The two women are concerned he'll do it again before they can reclaim their lost funds.
"What bankruptcy court is telling me is it's an eight-year gap so he's allowed to file again this year, March 1 and that's why I think he's telling everybody these excuses of 'oh the money's here, be patient,'" said Ridgell.
Gayden works out of his home on Buster Avenue in Warren. After attempts to get in touch with the travel agent, he responded, telling the station he "made a mistake," made a bad investment, and that he wasn't trying to hide from his clients.
The two women rejected that explanation, saying it's the same story they've been told since November.
Gayden said he promises to return half of Ridgell's money by the end of the week, and the rest of the people theirs by the end of the month.
Both women have filed civil cases against Gayden in an effort to get their money back.