When more than 300 IU students touched down in Las Vegas this weekend, they found one small hitch in their fall break plans: none of their reservations had been made.
The group booked its trip through one travel agent, a man who they heard from other college students was reputable.
Upon arrival in Sin City, they began to suspect otherwise.
One of the students contacted the Bloomington Police Department on Tuesday on behalf of the group. The 22-year-old said they knew they’d been scammed when they arrived at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino to find their rooms were never reserved.
They tried to call the travel agent to sort things out, but there was no answer.
The students flew out from Indianapolis as their classes ended throughout the week, arriving first in twos and threes and later in packs.
Each paid $200 for hotel rooms for the weekend and a couple of fun excursions. The money — more than $60,000 in total — was transferred through an app.
The student who made the report to BPD provided the email and name of the agent they were booking through. He told police he’d checked out the man with other universities who used him before and heard good things.
Students at Purdue University told him they’d done the same thing with no trouble.
Detective Kevin Frank tracked down the travel agent, a 30-year-old man living in Las Vegas, through the email chain.
The man told him he’s done this for groups of college students in the past, but this time he couldn’t get the reservations he promised for the low price he offered. He didn’t book the rooms.
He told police he didn’t answer his phone when students arrived in Las Vegas because of a family emergency.
The man told Frank he was sorry and didn’t want to face criminal charges or go to jail.
Sgt. Dana Cole said police struck a deal with the agent Tuesday night, and he won’t face charges if he returns all of the money.
As of Wednesday, there is no update on whether the money has been transferred back to the students.
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