Some home-based business vendors in Brandon fear they've lost money after the hotel cancelled a local trade show, and the person they paid for tables stopped answering messages.
Betty Reykdal said she contacted a trade show organizer on Facebook about two weeks ago after seeing a post looking to book home-based businesses in Brandon. She was offered two tables for the price of one to sell Pampered Chef products.
The deal was so good she sent $50 by e-transfer to an email address right away. Not long after, she said, red flags started going up when she started hearing of other Pampered Chef sellers coming to the same show. But things started going wrong after she tried to contact the organizer.
'It makes me not want to trust people'
"Next thing I knew, all of my conversations were gone," she said. Not long after the organizer's Facebook account disappeared, and, as far as she knows, so has her $50.
"I feel angry, I feel saddened, I feel a little hurt personally," Reykdal said. "It makes me not want to trust people."
When Reykdal tried to cancel the e-transfer her bank told her it was too late. She went to the police, but was told it was a civil matter and they couldn't help her.
Reykdal said the show was set to take place Nov. 11 and 12 at the Clarion Inn and Suites in Brandon. When she called the hotel she was told it was tentatively booked but hadn't yet been paid for.
Event cancelled by hotel
A hotel manager confirmed to CBC News on Monday that the show had been cancelled by the hotel because the space was not paid for and staff hadn't been able to reach the organizer.
Karen Nickel was contacted about the same trade show and she signed on to sell her line of bath and beauty products. She was offered a 50 per cent discount if she booked that day and also sent money by e-transfer.
"I noticed his Facebook page was totally deleted," Nickel said. "All the messages that he had sent me had been deleted."
Nickel also hasn't heard from the organizer since.
CBC contacts organizer
CBC News sent an email to the address where both women were told to send their e-transfers. In a reply, the sender said they've been tied up with a family emergency and that a friend would be taking care of the trade show in their absence.
In a later reply the organizer said they'd be in touch with people who bought into the show. Questions about whether people wanting refunds will get their money back weren't answered nor was a request for a phone number. The organizer also said they weren't aware the Facebook page was down.
Reykdal said the situation has turned her off from wanting to do any more vendor shows, despite the fact that she says the majority of shows are organized by hardworking, trustworthy people and she meets a lot of new clients.
'It breaks your trust'
Nickel says she "never expected someone would actually do this," adding that other people should be more cautious and ask questions.
Reykdal said the situation makes her "not want to trust people … It breaks your trust."
According to Reykdal she has little hope she'll get her money back and she's learned a lesson:
"If it's too good to be true, it probably is."