By Mary Simms
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's an intriguing story of alleged fraud, theft, and deception. Laura Epstein of Honolulu contacted us via our Talk Story line, alerting us to her credit card nightmare. It involves the purchase of tickets for the minor league Hawaii Hurricanes basketball team. Her $42 worth of tickets wound up costing more than $25,000 dollars on her American Express statement.
Was this a clerical error?
Epstein became suspicious when she couldn't get things fixed, and charges kept racking up. In this investigation you saw first on KHNL News 8, if you bought tickets for the Hawaii Hurricanes you bought tickets to see a basketball team that doesn't exist.
Colleagues claim Hawaii Hurricanes owner Andrew Moss, may have taken advantage of many ticket holders. The Hurricanes were supposed to become Hawaii's premiere pro basketball team. Now, allegations that Moss ripped off credit card companies and their clients to the tune of a nearly $100,000 dollars.
These are the Pacific Rim Rockers now. A week ago, they were the "Hawaii Hurricanes."
Andrew Moss used to own this team. But, because of suspected bad business practices, the American Basketball Association (ABA) has cut him out of the picture.
"About six weeks, eight weeks ago in doing our due diligence and checking up on the progress that he was making, we began to get extremely concerned about the lack of progress and the lack of candor from Andrew," said ABA President Joe Newman. "And then, there became large periods where we could not reach him for weeks and weeks."
Meanwhile, Moss recruited players, a marketing team, and a well known and respected head coach in Alika Smith.
Moss set up a website, sold tickets -- even took out an expensive ad in the back of the new yellow pages. But, those he owed money to say he didn't meet his commitments.
"I've gotten numerous bounced checks. I go into the bank to retreive the money and there saying this account has been closed for two or three months," said head coach Alika Smith.
"One lie went to another, went to another, and it just snow balled from there."
Smith found out the woman we introduced you to, Laura Epstein, wasn't the only one with unauthorized charges on her credit card.
"I was contacted by two other people that bought season tickets. And they were charged their regular amount, then they were charged a large range of charges after that from Hawaii Basketball Inc.," which is Andrew Moss.
Smith says he's aware of at least $80,000 dollars in unauthorized credit card charges, plus money owed to him, and his team.
"One mistake fine, but three people coming with the same problem with x amount of money, I don't know."
After its investigation, American Express told Epstein, her money went to a Paypal account. When Moss did pay Smith some of what he was owed, it was also by Paypal.
A well liked and respected basketball figure, Smith says he feels taken advantage of.
"Everybody knows that he's taken advantage of each individual that he's crossed, and I don't know if my name or image was there to lure these people into buying so that he could rip them or whatever his process was. I hate to think he's that kind of guy right now, but he is."
If you could say something to him now, what would you say?
"Get a good lawyer."
We called Moss dozens of times and even went to his condo to try and get a response. Nothing from him, but a search on his business, Moss Enterprises, reveals he's not in good standing with Hawaii's Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Be sure to tune in to KHNL News 8 on Wednesday, we'll introduce you to the Pacific Rim Rockers, and tell you why the team's future is in jeopardy.