A travel agent and entrepreneur was arrested for allegedly scamming dozens of women trying to book a vacation to attend New Oreleans’ Essence Festival, resulting in a loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
Nakesia Washington, 41, of OBL Travel L.L.C. helped several dozen women book concert tickets, hotel reservations, and party packages to Essence music festival this past July. However, Washington allegedly failed to deliver, leaving concertgoers out of a total of $80,000.
According to WALB News 10, one woman named Kerry Gouff said she arrived during the festival weekend and found out her hotel reservation was not secured. On the spot, she had to pay an addition $1,200 for a room on top of the $1,000 she had already paid. Additionally, 24-year-old Cinneah El-Amin said that she and her friends each paid $1,092 to OBL to travel to the festival, but did not have a reservation when they arrived at the hotel. They also had to spend additional money on a room.
A Nashville-based travel agent, Mattine Buchanan, was out $31,000 after arranging travel to the festival for about 25 women. She had been sending payments to OBL Travel since last August, but soon found out that their accommodations were not secure. The 25 women were not able to attend.
“Hopefully, we can get restitution for the money that we spent,” concertgoer Adriana Williams told WSDU. “Especially me, I am out of $8,000 on top of the money that I paid for the package. It was the worst trip ever because I was stressed out my mind and so was the group I was with.”
Washington was arrested on August 3 with a theft of more than $25,000, theft valued between $5,000 and $24,999, and two counts of computer fraud, NOLA.com reports. Officials noted that the value of the losses may increase as Washington faces more criminal charges. The agent reportedly told her clients in an email that she suffered from a medical emergency and her bank account had been hacked, saying that she did not have “malicious intent.”
Many women are demanding to be reimbursed for the trip. Washington was released from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Grenta on August 5 for a $45,000 bond, and her attorney is “confident” she will be found not guilty.