Police: Radio station didn't commit fraud - WELE-AM listeners say they didn't receive vacations

Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL) - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There is no evidence that management at WELE-AM radio in Ormond Beach did anything criminal when it failed to return money to listeners who purchased tickets from a now-defunct show that touted travel specials, police said Tuesday. 

Ormond Beach police investigators reached that conclusion after looking into allegations of fraud from at least three listeners of the radio station who said they had been cheated out of money they paid for travel tickets they never received, said police spokesman Sgt. Kenny Hayes. 

"We saw no criminal intent on the part of the owner of the radio station," Hayes said Tuesday. 

Police said listeners who have not received refunds for their tickets could try to pursue the matter in civil court.  In a letter to customers and on a recorded telephone message, station owner Doug Wilhite announced late last month that the Premier Travel Show - which offered travel packages at lower rates - was going off the air. Wilhite said he and his family were strapped for cash and inundated in debt and did not know whether WELE would continue operating. 

Earlier this month, though, Wilhite said he intended to make good on all the outstanding vacation certificates that were bought through the travel show. The station has been back in operation for a few weeks. 

"For criminal charges to apply, police would have to prove that agents of the radio station knowingly sold packages that were worthless or knowingly misrepresented the packages which resulted in monetary gain to the business," Hayes explained this afternoon, and there was no proof of that. 

"On the contrary, police determined that the radio station did, in fact, have business relationships with companies providing vacation accommodations or travel services," Hayes said. 

Mary Rhoads of Palm Coast, who had been unable to take a trip that she paid $561 for, said she was able to get a refund from her credit-card company. She is among those who reported the problem to Ormond Beach police.

Copyright, 2008, The News-Journal Corporation

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