JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville man at the center of an I-TEAM investigation regarding vacation purchases has sold his home and no longer has his job as a pharmaceutical representative.
One week after first reporting on Juan Arteaga, 27 families from 10 states have come forward to News4Jax to say they paid him thousands of dollars to purchase plane tickets, hotels, cruises and other vacation packages. However, despite paying him up front and in full as Arteaga required, they claim he failed to pay off their trips -- or in many cases -- failed to book their trips at all. Now they fear Arteaga won't refund their money.
So how do all of these families across the country know Arteaga? They tell the I-TEAM it's because of referrels and word-of-mouth by those who had booked discounted travel through him. Some referrels came from those who knew Arteaga on a personal basis and others from those who met him because of his job as pharmaceutical rep with Bausch + Lomb.
The I-TEAM contacted Bausch + Lomb about what we had learned and what Arteaga was accused of doing. The company sent us the following statement:
"We expect our employees to adhere to our company’s Standards of Business Conduct. While we can’t comment further on this matter, we can confirm Mr. Arteaga is no longer an employee of the company."
Our phone messages to Arteaga have not been returned, and we've learned his Fort Caroline home -- that Zillow estimates is worth about $365,985 -- was sold last week as a "deed in lieu of foreclosure" for $60,000. The I-TEAM found the supporting legal documents which were signed Jan. 24, 2019 by Arteaga and his wife.
Customers of Juan Arteaga
The 27 families that contacted the I-TEAM since our first report on Arteaga come from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Washington State.
They all say at first Arteaga got them their trips at a great price -- even though they would often have to wait until the last minute to receive confirmation numbers and plane tickets from him. But because they saved money by paying Arteaga and having him book their flights, hotels and other vacation packages, they say in turn, they recommended Arteaga to others.
Recently, something went wrong. Even though they paid up front and in full as required, some tell the I-TEAM Arteaga only paid their deposits -- just enough to generate a confirmation number. Others say they showed up at hotels and airports to learn their reservations were either not paid or never made at all.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida agency that regulates travel agents throughout the state, has an active investigation open into Arteaga. But, it's not the first time.
In 2006, Arteaga was accused of acting as a travel agent -- which requires a person to be licensed and bonded. The agency confirms to the I-TEAM he is not licensed and bonded and never has been. Documents show, during that investigation, Arteaga denied acting as a travel agent and told an investigator he "has no plans to sell travel in the future."
If you have a complaint against Juan Arteaga, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services asked the I-TEAM to direct you to this link to file a complaint online.
Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.