WHITTIER (CBSLA) — A group of recent high school graduates were left holding their bags, literally, after a celebratory trip that was bought and paid for fell through, and now they’re demanding answers and their money back.
Zachary Chavez was “excited” about the trip he was about to take with his fellow grads from La Serna High School in Whittier.
Iris Aguilar, the mother of classmate, booked the 5-day trip to Cancún, Mexico on the Senior Grad Trips website. She asked CBS2 News not show her face on camera.
“I Googled senior trips. This company came up,” said Aguilar. She said she did her due diligence, reading reviews, asking for referrals, and even speaking to the owner of the company George Barragan.
“He, you know, picked up my phone, texts us all the time,” said Aguilar.
The embarrassed mother said she received confirmation numbers for the trip, and everything looked good to go.
However, when the students arrived at LAX Sunday, they found out neither the airline tickets nor the resort stays were actually purchased.
A photo shows the students sitting around the airport terminal with nowhere to go.
A GoFundMe campaign started by Aguilar said the students ” eft crying, upset and truly disappointed not about the money but because they were looking forward to experience Cancun with their friends. They’re all great kids attending college this fall with hefty tuition to pay parents are unable financially to rebook.”
They’re now out thousands of dollars.
“Sad, mad, upset,” Chavez told CBS2 News.
Reporter Jo Kwon emailed the site, called their toll-free number, send a text message to the number listed, and finally called the number.
The outgoing message said Barragan is currently out of the country and asked to leave a reply, but the voicemail inbox was full.
Barragan did send a message to the students’ parents, saying they would be receiving a full refund within the next 30 days.
Zachary’s father Chuck told CBS2 he isn’t holding his breath. “People are scammers,” added Zachary.
For her part, Aguilar said, “I just want this gut to get caught, so that it’s not gonna happen again to some other kids.
As of Tuesday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised $25 of the $40,000 goal.