WJTV News Channel 12 - St Pete travel company faces angry customers at bankruptcy meeti

St Pete travel company faces angry customers at bankruptcy meeting

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Carefree travel brochure Carefree travel brochure
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) - Dozens of senior citizens showed up Friday to face the man that collected more than $100,000 for vacations and then shut down his company.

"I would like to get my money back," said Maryanne Wellander. "That's a lot of money to me."

Our 8-on-your-side investigation uncovered three travel groups of seniors that paid for trips through St. Petersburg's Carefree Vacation Services and lost their money.

There was a group of 50 from Sun City Center. Another group of 50 from the Red Hat Society. Then a St. Petersburg travel group stepped forward to say they lost big time.

On Friday, Jeff Fox, the owner of Carefree, attended his first bankruptcy hearing. For many of the seniors who lost money and didn't get their trips, it was their first opportunity to confront Fox.

"I want my money back," said Maryanne Wellander, who lost $2,000. "I didn't believe everything he said. It just sounded like of fishy. I really believe we were taken advantage of."

Wellander attended the meeting of creditors and registered as a creditor. For these seniors, it is their only hope at recovering some money.

Fox testified that his business tanked, in part, because a company he used to hold deposits suffered a data breach. He said he lost money and never recovered.

Outside the meeting, 8 On Your Side had plenty of questions about what he knew about his failing company when he collected the money from the senior citizens.

Fox didn't say one word as he walked to his car in the rain.

State investigators are looking into what went wrong at the business, though. They are particularly concerned about travel insurance policies Fox sold to many of the travelers. He urged them spend hundreds more on the policies through iTravelInsured, and their paperwork showed they would be covered for various things, including cancellation due to bankruptcy. But when they tried to use the insurance, they say they were told by the insurance company that they are not covered because they purchased the trip from the bankrupt travel company. 

Related Story: St Pete travel company to have bankruptcy hearing

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