Woman Scams Essence Fest Travelers Out Of Thousands – Tha Wire
Today in Tha Wire the 25th anniversary of the Essence Music Festival is going down this weekend, but not let this story serve as a warning the next time you book a "Travel Package" cause you may get burned. At least 100 unsuspecting festival goers arrived in New Orleans anticipating a wonderful weekend only to learn they scammed out of there money by a fast-talking travel agent looking to score an easy payday.
NOLA.com reports at least eight dozen out-of-state travelers booked fake Essence travel package with Nakesia Washington and her OBL Travel to last years festival. Washington and her company, were not affiliated with the Essence Festival in any capacity. However, her travel agency was reportedly listed as one of many companies offering packages to the event including everything form hotel rooms, concert tickets, to VIP parties, travel insurance and various other services.
WDSU News reported former OBL customers are furious, and trying to warn others on social media so they don't become future victims of her dirty scam.
Investigators with the District Attorney Paul Connick's office told the news that before it was all said and done, Washington had deposited more than $240,000 into her business account from last years scam. Instead of taking care of her costumers travel arrangements, she used their money to splurge on shopping, rental cars, restaurants and a wide array of other personal activities.
Customers like Janay Golden, a single mother with two jobs, said she had saved for month's to pay $1,600 for her first trip to Essence and days before arriving Washington stopped returning her calls. Tim Highbaugh said he paid $1,340 for his trip, while Kierra Spruill and six of her friends all paid $1,219 a piece for their travel. All of them arriving to New Orleans only to find they no hotels rooms, tickets to any of the shows, or anything else. Turns out they weren't only victims, other travel agencies also got caught up in Washington's scheme as well. Mattine Buchanan, said she booked several trips for clients using OBL, and now her reputation and credibility have been destroyed.
WDSU issued an update on the story this week and reported that Nakesia Washington is going to prison. On July 4, 2019 Washington plead guilty to felony theft and fraud in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, LA. She was sentenced to fifteen years with the final six being suspended by Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach. The judge also ordered Washington to spend three years on active probation, and to pay restitution to all of her victims. In addition, the 42-year old will appear at a hearing next week for a supervised plan set by the court to that everyone gets their money back. In all Washington is looking at a nine year prison sentence, with the eligibility for early release.