Thousands are making their way back home after Essence Fest this weekend. But law enforcement is now launching an investigation into allegations against a travel company.
Kerry Gouff arrived in New Orleans to no hotel reservations three days ago, despite paying for them through OBL Travel for months. But she didn't let the experience ruin Essence Fest for her.
Gouff says she hasn't filed a police report yet, but plans to phone one into the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office when she makes it back home. JPSO has already received two reports about OBL Travel and its owner, Nakesia Washington. The business's address is listed in Marrero.
Sheriff Joe Lopinto says companies targeting tourists during a popular weekend can be dangerous. That's why they're launching an investigation into OBL to bring potential charges.
“We want to make sure the legitimate companies have the ability to go out and service their customers, but the ones that are preying upon playing on other people may be coming in town, tourism is our industry here in this town and we want to make sure we protect it,” he said.
We still have not been able to get in touch with Washington, so when FOX 8 drove to the address listed for her business, the address listed is for a United State Post Office location.
Cynthia Albert with the Better Business Bureau says they've received 16 total complaints against the company since calls first started coming in a week ago. But some of those complaints encompass groups with multiple people. While the BBB cannot legally secure restitution for victims, Albert says they work with law enforcement in their investigations.
“We’re not law enforcement but we do let them know there's FBI they need to contact, and of course get a police report. That's very important. You want to get everything documented,” said Albert.
That’s one of the reasons the sheriff's office is encouraging any potential victims to call the office with their report. And once she catches her breath, that's exactly what Gouff plans to do.
“I told all my friends file a report. I know this weekend was overwhelming, we don’t want to dwell on it so much. But now that we're going back home and back to our lives, everyone needs to be on the same page. File your reports because there needs to be a paper trail. They need to know this didn't happen to just us, it happened to a lot of people,” said Gouff.
The District Attorneys office said for consumer fraud cases, they're only brought to the DA’s office after a police investigation. The NOPD says it is aware of the situation, but they are not aware of any reports being filed.
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