13 Investigates: Purdue students get bad deal in Las Vegas

(Photo provided)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WTHR) - 13 Investigates has the story of Purdue students who say they were scammed, scared and left homeless in Las Vegas by a travel agent.

They lost hundreds of bucks and spent hundreds more as they scrambled to find affordable, safe places to sleep in sin city.

It is a warning for college students and their parents.

About 100 Purdue students thought they had hit it big last week. They looked forward to 3 days and nights partying in Las Vegas for $350. They had no clue the cards were stacked against them.

One student's video show students boarding the plane, full of fun and excitement. Three days out of class, no books, no pressure. Who wouldn't be happy?

The good time ended soon after their plane landed Friday morning in Las Vegas.

"It was horrible experience." said Serena Faycurry, a Purdue senior. "I didn't think anyone should go through it."

"It was crazy," Briana Crowe said.

When the sorority sisters and scores of students tried checking into their hotel, they got an ugly surprise.

"There's no reservations," Faycurry said. "No one knows Kenji."

Kenji Las Vegas is the man students paid $350, months ahead of the the trip.

"When you are stranded in Las Vegas and you are not sure what you are going to do next and what's going to happen, definitely, you are scared," Crowe said.

In a city where the party never stops, suddenly hotel-less and homeless students frantically looked for safe places to stay.

"We went in to damage control mode. Like alright, who can scrape together money, we have to figure it out," Crowe said.

The fall break Vegas trip has been yearly tradition for students. They trusted Kenji Las Vegas, also known as Kenji Shaltry, never expecting they would be shortchanged.

"A complete scam," Faycurry said. "We are so surprised. He's been doing it for ten years with people from Purdue."

Falcurry and Crowe said they couldn't find Kenji. Neither could Eyewitness News. Web searches ended with dead ends. So did phone calls. Some numbers were out of service.

A man responded to a message left on one of the working numbers. He apparently inherited one of Kenji's old numbers.

"I get phone calls like this all the time. It seems the guy is into a lot of bad stuff," he said.

Students worked together and stayed together. They found hotel rooms and even managed to have a good time. The bargain weekend wasn't such a bargain. They spent hundreds of dollars more than they planned to.

"He's scamming college students for money they don't have, for this one, really final big-bang opportunity at the end of the senior year. He just stole that, pretty much stole that and all of our money from under us," said Crowe.

The victims are more than sore losers. They don't want other students falling for a similar bad deal. The story of what happened to them in Las Vegas, they believe, shouldn't stay in Las Vegas.