Woman says travel agent ripped her off of cruise money

By Harve Jacobs  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Beverly Houchins thought it would be the perfect way to spend part of the holiday season. Houchins and some of her family members booked 24 rooms on a Carnival cruise to the western Caribbean. The cruise was scheduled from Dec. 5-10. "We saved, scrimped and saved. We're not rich people, so we scrimped and saved in order for our kids and for us to go on that vacation," Houchins said.

Houchins said the travel agent for the cruise was a woman named Wilhelmina Moultrie of Mt. Pleasant, who worked for a company out of Atlanta. "She did book the cruise. There was a booking number," Houchins said.

On Nov. 25, just 15 days before the cruise, Houchins received a copy of a letter supposedly from Carnival to the booking agent. The news wasn't good. "That Carnival overbooked the cruise. I immediately knew something was incorrect about that," she said.

The letter stated Houchins and her family members would be refunded their money. Houchins called Carnival and was told they never received any payments for the cruise. The cruise line had some more bad news about the letter. "Carnival said there's no such letter and they would have never sent any correspondence as such," said Houchins.

She then called the booking agent to get some answers. "She insisted that the letter, the copy of the letter I gave you, was authentic. Of course, it wasn't authentic," said Houchins.

A closer look at the letter revealed grammatical errors and typos. One line stated "We had to decided on the groups to release from the contracts." It should have stated "We had to decide." Another line stated "Your group was on of the five." It should have stated "one of the five."

Houchins is convinced she was conned. "I'm out of $2,950. My sister's out of $1,017. We wanted to find out what happened to the money, so we went to see travel agent Wilhelmenia Moultrie at her job. I was told she didn't want to see me. Houchins says she plans to see Moultrie in court. "I'm hoping I will do my best to sue for all of my money back, plus my lost time."

Houchins and at least one other woman who was supposed to go on the cruise have filed police reports. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.

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