Travel agencies, Masters patrons scammed out of money and tickets

MGN Online
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News 12 First at Five / Thursday, February 27, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The price of a badge could go for hundreds, thousands and could even hit $30,000.

All to get a chance to see the best play on the world-famous course.

"People come from all over the place to Augusta during the Masters," said GiGi Turner, with the Better Business Bureau.

But what if you spend the money and don't get the badges?

"They're taking advantage of consumers," she said.

Turner's talking about scam artists and third party vendors.

Last year, News 12 told you the story of the Canadian couple that traveled thousands of miles for a once-in-a-lifetime memory. Instead, they spent most of their Masters week in the hotel room. It all happened after the travel agency who booked their trip, couldn't produce their Masters badges.

"We go over to this company TravelMasters that have our tickets, only to be told that they have no tickets for us," said Lynn Howarth who came with her husband Doug.

Almost a year later, TravelMasters is closed. They're third party vendor, scammed the company and is patrons.

"Your money is not going to be going through that travel agency, it's going into the hands of the scam artist," said Turner.

And it's not just TravelMasters. Another agency, Best Golf Experiences got hit too. A letter, courtesy of MetroSpirit, to the companies clients states..."I have been victimized by fraud." And goes on to say..."The company has sustained significant financial losses..."

News 12 went to the office today...and it's completely shut down.

"You will have scam artists that actually are posing as a third party vender to legitimate travel agencies," she said.

How can you protect yourself, even if the travel agency is licensed and legit?

"Verify that the person you're dealing with, is associated with that travel agency," said Turner.

In the case of the two Canadian golf fans, and the two travel agencies, it's a little too late. But it could save others thousands of bucks and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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