The Blue Water travel company has left Cicero more than a month earlier than scheduled. The company had been sending out postcards using Jet Blue and Delta logos that offered two round trip airfares to anywhere in the United States. The airline logos are the only company names that can be found on the front or back of the postcard. When people called to claim the tickets, they were given an appointment to meet with Blue Water representatives in a meeting room the company rented at a Cicero hotel.
Cicero Police Chief Joseph Snell thought the postcard was suspicious and attended a Blue Water presentation last week. The chief says he was escorted out after asking questions about the company's business practices and connections.
Other attendees say the company asked them to purchase memberships in a travel club that would give them discounts on hotels, airfare, cruises and vacation homes. The memberships were priced at $8,495 but people who listened to the presentation say that salesmen were willing to negotiate the price in individual meetings. One man who attended the presentation said the price was lowered to $7,495 if he was wiling to pay with cash that night.
People who received the offers for two round trip airfares said the tickets came with a long list of restrictions. The vouchers could only be used on certain days at certain times and another condition required people to submit multiple travel dates along with a $50 money order as a "refundable deposit."
After CNYCentral ran a story about the police chief's concerns on Thursday, Blue Water started cancelling appointments in Cicero.
A representative named Keith from Blue Water said the company was just a distributor for a company called American Travel Planners and just helped people make travel plans. Keith said his company was doing business cleanly and explained all conditions to people who attended their presentations.
"We're as straightforward as anyone can be. That postcard - they can get their airline tickets," said Keith.
Keith acknowledged that Blue Water was using Jet Blue's logo on postcards and said Blue Water's name and logo were not used because "they don't need to be."
CNYCentral was with a man who asked to remain anonymous but believed he had been scammed by Blue Water. He shared his paperwork with us and said he felt the company's practices were misleading and deceptive. While we were with him, the man confronted a Blue Water presenter and asked for a refund.
On Monday, the person answering Blue Water's appointment line said they were no longer in the Syracuse area. CNYCentral has learned that Blue Water was scheduled to be in Cicero for another month and a half but packed up and left over the weekend.
The Attorney General's office has asked anyone who believes the company used misleading or fraudulent business tactics to contact the office's Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. The phone number is 800-771-7755. Blue Water has not been charged with any crimes.
In a statement, Delta Airlines said they did not know Blue Water was using their logo and had no connection with the company. "Because Delta is not the source of the fraudulent activity, we cannot speculate on how the customers were selected to receive this misinformation. Delta's information security team is continuing to monitor the situation. More information is available for Delta customers on delta.com."
Jet Blue is also looking into the postcards sent out by Blue Water and said the use of the company logo was unauthorized. In a statement to CNYCentral, Jet Blue said "We get especially upset when someone uses our name and logo to mislead customers and then prey on that sense of confusion to make a profit. We have received customer complaints about these postcards and are currently considering all of our legal options in response."