HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several California residents are raising alarms about a local tour company that they said took more than $100,000 from their group.
Johnny Phan said he and more than 80 friends and family members tried to book flights from San Jose, Calif. to Maui, hotel accommodations in Lahaina and other visitor events for the week of Aug. 5 with travel operator Wendy Wong and her company House of Aloha Hawaii.
But the California attorney said none of that ever materialized.
“I, myself, gave her $20,000. I know another family of nine that paid her over $10,000. In total, I’m thinking we gave $100,000,” said Phan, who planned the trip so he and wife could renew their vows on their 25th wedding anniversary.
“There has just been layers of deceptions, lies on top of lies. Clearly, the money disappeared.”
Phan said he trusted Wong because he went to middle school with her in Milpitas. But when he checked in late July, he said nothing was paid for -- forcing the group to cancel the entire Maui trip. He said none of the money has been refunded.
“When I had to break the news to my kids, they were devastated because they had never been to Hawaii,” added Ana Santiago, a friend of the Phan family who said she gave Wong about $5,000 for the Maui trip.
Hawaii News Now went to Wong’s address in Ewa Beach but no one answered. She had pulled out of an interview this morning. She also did not respond to emailed questions.
On her Linkedin page, Wong described herself as a “virtual travel counselor.” But state business registration records show she doesn’t have a travel agent’s license.
Customers also were not aware that Wong had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, with debts of nearly $200,000.
Castro Valley, Calif.-resident Jodi Gray said she’s been trying to get a refund of more than $4,000 for a trip next January. She said if she knew about Wong’s bankruptcy, she wouldn’t have done business with her.
“It’s just sickening what she’s done to ... people. It’s absolutely sickening,” said Gray.
Customers have since filed complaints with the California police and with Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.