Expert offers advice on how to avoid scams following taco party boat incident

Partygoers worried Detroit riverboat trip could be scam

By Kelley Kosuda - Producer, Hank Winchester - Reporter

DETROIT - It was promoted as a big party on the Detroit River with tacos and booze -- but now several Metro Detroiters are demanding a refund. 

Sherilyn and Michelle reached out to Local 4 after their group bought more than $700 worth of tickets for a “Taco Booze Cruise” on the Detroit River. The two women and several others saw the event being pushed on Facebook. 

The event post said for just $60 you could have unlimited drinks, tacos from a few popular Detroit restaurants and a cruise on the Detroit River for four hours. 

Once the tickets were bought, Michelle and Sherilyn said they started to worry the party that was being planned was nothing more than a fake. 

Details on the post started to change and were even deleted.

When they tried to do their own research on the company throwing the event -- they couldn’t find anything. There were posts on Facebook saying the same Taco Booze Cruise was happening in several other cities across the U.S. on the same day and at the same time. 

We made a call to the restaurants said to be participating, all of which said they were not aware of the event and had nothing on their schedule. 

We called the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority, which also said it had no record of the event being scheduled and that no one had reached out to their catering service either. 

Then, one day out of the blue -- the Facebook post from the event company said the event was canceled and refunds were being issued. But Local 4 has several people who still have not received their money back weeks later. 

Now, our Better Business Bureau and the BBB serving East Missouri and Illinois are looking into the event, fielding complaints. 

We did reach out to the ticket broker website that was selling the tickets. They told us that they’re a small operation that has spent hours fielding calls and complaints about the event company that sold tickets through its site. We also talked with the parent company, which looked into the issue and will work on the event company to return all the money. 

The Better Business Bureau says this event posting had red flags everyone should look out for -- especially during a time where advertising on social media has become king. 

Here’s some tips from the BBB’s CEO, Melanie Duquesnel:

  • The BBB says there was no connection to the cruise itself and the event company. The event company didn’t have its name readily available on the any of the imaging, which was also just stock pictures. If there’s no real branding, it might not be a real event.
  • The graphics were also fuzzy and not well made, which is a red flag for anything.
  • An event company and ticket broker should have a clearly stated refund policy when you’re buying tickets. It shouldn’t be as easy as pushing one button, putting in your credit card information, and then clicking another button to buy. There should always be terms and agreements you need to read and agree to.
  • Check into the company that’s running the event. Look for a history of events it has run before and make sure there’s actual people running this event. That would mean someone here in Michigan that’s going to be present and putting it on. This event company was based out of Chicago and didn’t have a number to call and get a live person. Always try to talk to a live person. It’s all about the research.
  • The women in our story did a good thing calling the restaurants to see if they were a part of the event, but they did it after they spent the money. It’s a good idea to do it beforehand.

All of us can fall prey to an online scam, especially one that looks like a really fun time.

Our Help Me Hank team hopes this story gives everyone information they need to learn from and hopefully not fall for another scam.

Just remember: If it sounds too good to be true -- pause -- ask questions -- and then make a decision.

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