Brooklyn Woman Says Fly-By-Night Catholic Travel Agency ‘Duped’ Her
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn woman is accusing a travel company of scamming her after she paid thousands of dollars for a trip to the Holy Land, but didn’t go anywhere.
As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, Marie Jacobs, of Brooklyn, decided to take the trip after seeing an ad in The Tablet, a local Catholic newspaper.
“Who doesn’t want to go to Holy Land, where Jesus walked?” she said. “So as a Catholic, I’m so excited, and they had a great offer.”
A company called Catholic Value Tours sold Jacobs, her husband and her son a 13-day trip to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Galilee and the Vatican, for just over $3,000 per person.
A company representative told Jacobs the agency didn’t accept credit cards, so Jacobs set up a payment plan.
Starting in April 2013, Jacobs sent Catholic Value Tours four checks totaling $6,000.
She figured out something was wrong when the last check was never cashed.
She called the company, only to find its phone had been disconnected. Mail she sent to the agency was returned to her.
“It looks like I’ve been duped,” Jacobs said.
And it doesn’t appear that she’s alone.
The Better Business Bureau said Catholic Value Tours has an “F” rating. In the past six months, there have been 14 complaints against the California-based company from customers who say their trips were canceled and their money was never returned.
The website for Catholic Value Tours is still active. But when CBS 2 called, none of the phone numbers connected to the company were in service.
“Definitely, it sounds to me they took advantage of them,” said Ryan Maurer, a Suffolk County resident.
“It’s been done before many times,” said Hector Mendoza, of College Point, Queens. ” … I would be embarassed, but people who do that are not very embarrassed. They’ve got no shame.”
Jacobs said she doesn’t blame her church or The Tablet — just the company targeting the Catholic community for what appears to be a scam.
“I’m very upset that I’ve been so deceived,” Jacobs said.
“Recovering the money is not the most important thing; it’s to catch these people.”
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