SACO — A case regarding alleged misappropriation of funds at TravelWise was recently turned over to the FBI.

After receiving reports of the alleged financial impropriety, in early June, police searched the travel agency, which was located at 307 Main St., as well as the home and car of the business owner, Beth Rogers, and seized records, according to a police statement issued at the time.

Saco Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Holland said the case involves local complaints as well as those from outside the State of Maine, and the case was handed over to the FBI last week. No one has been charged, he said.

Holland said there have been 50 to 60 alleged victims, and more than $200,000 is reportedly involved. A number of complaints were from members of the 50 Plus Club of the Biddeford Recreation Department.

Fran and Bob Gagnon of Old Orchard Beach said they were part of the group of people from the 50 Plus Club who put up money thinking they were booking a trip to the Southwest, only to find later that the trip will never come to fruition, and their money is gone.

Bob Gagnon said he had never been to the Southwest and the two went to an informational meeting in February for the eight-day trip, which included travel to the Grand Canyon, a cruise on Lake Powell, a tour with a Navajo guide of Monument Valley and a few days in Las Vegas. It was supposed to take place in October.

“We said, ”˜It sounds like a great trip, let’s do it,’” said Bob Gagnon.

The Gagnons said they paid in March with a check of $4,200, only to hear later that the trip was not going to happen. They were asked to pay in check or cash to avoid higher fees associated with credit cards, they said.

The Gagnons had booked two previous trips through TravelWise, and said Rogers was personable, “extremely helpful” and “wonderful to work with,” even providing a cabdriver who met them at an airport in Greece with a sign in English. Bob Gagnon said, given their previous experiences with Rogers and TravelWise, it was very surprising to hear about the alleged financial misappropriation.

Fran Gagnon said she and her husband have worked hard to save up for trips like this in their retirement, and she knows that others from the 50 Plus Club have as well.

Some retirees buy a home in Florida, said Bob Gagnon, but “this is what we wanted to do when we retired: Go on nice trips.”

An official at the Portland branch office of the FBI said they could neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the case.

TravelWise appears to no longer be in operation. The travel agency’s office at 307 Main St. is closed, the website has been taken down and the phone number has been disconnected.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 325 or [email protected].



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