Local group loses out on Las Vegas vacation and $25,000

OXON HILL, Md. (WJLA) - An Oxon Hill woman planned a trip for 28 of her family and friends. But she has to tell them their money is gone and the vacation is off even though she spent more than $25,000.

Bernice Waller expected to be packing. She and her friends looked forward to a few fun filled days in Las Vegas. They were supposed to leave on August 12.

Waller says she contacted a travel agent who handles church groups out of his District Heights home. The travel date is just days away so her friends keep asking her, “does she have their tickets.”

She told them they have nothing.

Waller says she figured the trip fell through. But what about her money? Both Waller and the travel agent agree she paid more than $25,000.

How did this happen?

ABC7 went to the home of the travel agent. A man leaving when we arrived didn't want to talk. ABC7 asked a woman who opened the door some questions as well but she said she didn’t know about the money.

When ABC7 pressed for a meeting, Henry Russell, who owns the agency, asked to meet in Virginia. He provided an address for a rendezvous and it turned out it didn't exist.

He eventually called ABC7 back. He said he sub-contracted with another travel agent and that agent made a mistake and the trip had to be canceled.

He said the other agent has the money and he is trying to get it back to refund it.

Meanwhile, Waller is stuck telling her friends - some who had to get child and elder care - to forget about their trip.

After Russell spoke with ABC7, Waller says he called her and offered to refund the money in installments. But her friends want the money now.

“Very disgusted and upset and mad because people are telling they want their money back,” she says.