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San Diego Man Says He Was Victimized in Groupon Deal

SAN DIEGO

 

Millions of people around the country receive emails from Groupon.com advertising daily deals.

 

However, 10News learned one of the company's deals this past summer did not deliver as promised. 10News discovered more than 2,000 people from Los Angeles to San Diego may have given their credit card information to an ex-convict and did not even realize it.

When Groupon offered a daily deal with Lux Travel Group for a $55 round-trip luxury bus ride to Las Vegas -- a package that included champagne service, cocktails, WiFi and a movie screening during the chocolate mint-drizzled dessert -- Leonard Miranda bought tickets for two.

"It was described as a luxurious trip," said Miranda.

Two days before the trip, Groupon canceled the deal. When Miranda called Groupon to ask why, he was told there were simply too many people wanting reservations and Lux could not accommodate them for months, which caused a problem.

"They described that it was strictly a capacity issue," Miranda said.

When Lux offered to make good on the reservation with Miranda that Saturday he felt comfortable booking directly with them.

It turns out Lux contacted many of the 2,228 people who booked the deal and told them the same thing. The company promised to honor it and told San Diegans to meet the bus in front of the Marriott Marina on Harbor Drive.

After hours of waiting, the wheels were about to come off of the alleged travel group scam.

According to Miranda, Lux started making excuses.

"'Hey, we're sorry but our bus broke down and we're working on trying to get another bus from our sister company in LA,'" Miranda said Lux told him.

After hours of waiting, Miranda drove himself to Las Vegas.

Others in the same situation the following week were eventually picked up by a white sport utility vehicle with no front or back license plates. The "courteous attendants" referenced in the Groupon ad and pictured on the Lux Travel Group website were not what was promised.

"Someone left a message from Southwest Airlines' fraud department. She just wanted to verify that I had made two plane ticket purchases from Las Vegas to San Diego," said Miranda.

Police questioned the couple who traveled with those tickets and they explained Lux Travel Group purchased the tickets to get the couple back home to San Diego after the Lux bus never arrived, leaving them stranded in Las Vegas.

"The problem is they were using my credit card to make that charge," Miranda said.

Miranda contacted Groupon with the information he obtained, but he said he soon found out even more.

"Not only is this a poor business, but more than likely this is a complete fraud and a scam, and people need to be alerted," said Miranda.

Miranda did an Internet search to find the information that Groupon had all along -- the name of Lux Travel Group's owner, Shaun Michael LeClerc.

"If they would have run his name they would have saw that he's been involved in fraud. It's open source information on the Internet that said he was a parolee," said Miranda.

Miranda's search, which the I-Team verified with the Department of Corrections, showed LeClerc is an ex-convict who served time in prison for scams, thefts and financial frauds.

How did Groupon not know they were going into business with a felon? When asked about their vetting process, they told 10News:

Groupon LA featured Lux in July 2011. At the time of our partnership agreement, Lux was screened via Groupon's extensive vetting process that includes but is not limited to BBB and credit checks, both of which they passed within our high quality standards.

Groupon has known since late August that Miranda was the victim of credit card fraud, but it has not notified the other people who also dealt with Lux Travel Group.

In an email to Miranda, Groupon said it needs to "discuss this with the ownership (of Lux) to access the situation before making any public statements."

"Now it's a parolee with 2,228 credit cards with all this cock-and-bull story and nobody's doing anything; very disheartening," Miranda said.

10News learned Lux Travel Group never had a business license.

LeClerc has been arrested for violating his parole by operating in another alleged business scam. He is currently in Chino State Prison.

10News wants to point out there are several legitimate businesses with similar names, such as Luxe Travel and Lux Bus America.

Experts said the key to participating in a daily deal is to deal solely with Groupon.

All of the people who purchased the bus ride to Las Vegas were refunded by Groupon.

 

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