(KMSP) - A group of ten Minnesota business owners lost a total of $7,500 after they say a woman promised them Vikings season tickets in exchange for their money.
Business owners say Barbara Lynn Peterson, listed as the owner of Nexus Travel, made the deal with them at a MeetUp.com group session in late May.
“I had no reason not to believe in her, I was introduced to her by the fella who was running the meeting and had dealt with him before and had some success,” Tony Faust of Prior Lake told Fox 9.
“She was very professional, very friendly and very nice,” Faust said of Peterson. “The tickets were priced at either $52 or $54 a piece. I bought a combination, eight and a total $428.”
Months rolled by.
“The tickets were [supposed] to come to our phone,” Faust said.
Text messages from Peterson’s phone number to Ben Theis, the first business owner to raise questions, reassured him his money had been returned.
When Theis initially pressed for his refund in July, Peterson appears to have responded with “I’m in meetings all day today. I will let you know when we are set.”
When Theis persisted in August the response was, “Ben, I’ve been called away due to family these past weeks, with limited access to my voicemail and e-mail. I left message to my staff, why you haven’t received your check.”
Later, after further attempts to reach her, Peterson apparently responded “Ben, check went out weekend of 8/5-8/6 to your work address, you should have received this by last week. If check doesn’t arrive by Wednesday, I will have bank void and issue a new one.”
Theis still waits for the $972 he spent on the Vikings season tickets he ordered from Peterson.So far, no one in the group has received their purchased tickets or their money back.
“I know one person who got 19 tickets, another who got 25 tickets ordered, and I think it’s another person who had a similar number who ended up having to buy tickets from the Vikings, so she in essence had to pay twice,” Faust said. “[Peterson] took the money well, she just didn’t spend it - at least not on the tickets.”
Meanwhile, the address Peterson has listed her business and registered her license under isn’t hers at all. Instead, it leads to a Post Office in Woodbury, Minn.
“Something nefarious can be up," said Dan Hendrickson of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota told Fox 9. "It would nice to get that other point of view because we know things can happen, but without even just a note to say ‘Hey this is happening, I’m having problems with this or that,’ there’s no way of knowing.”
Hendrickson says the BBB reached out to Peterson, but has not heard back from her yet.
Fox 9’s calls also went unanswered. When we stopped by the house we’re told she lives in, it seemed no one was home.
“It definitely puts a dent in her reputation,” said Hendrickson.
Theis says he purchased 18 tickets, which he had to buy again for his friends.
Peterson, for now, leaves Faust and his family members on the couch and out of good money come game time.
“To ruin your name and have a business you’re trying to run and have that out there on the internet and people chasing you... why would somebody do that? I think she must have a problem,” Faust said. “As I watch the game I should’ve been sitting at I guess I’ll be remembering that, too."
The BBB will continue to monitor the situation.
“The best thing you can do is vet the person collecting money to the best of your ability,” Hendrickson suggests.
Meanwhile, Hendrickson says Bloomington and Minneapolis police are investigating the case.