Allied Veterans of the World customers likely out money

Man says he had nearly $200 on card used to play machines

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As an Internet cafe scheme unfolds, some of Allied Veterans of the World's customers have been left in the lurch.

With the organization shut down, some who patronized the cafes are without their money, and they're hoping something can be done to get it back.

Some people have put their money on cards they would use to play the machines. And with all the accounts frozen due to the shutdowns, they're out of luck.

"I knew something bad was going to happen sooner or later," said one customer, who didn't want to be identified. "I mean, they were making too much money."

The man said he had a card from each Jacksonville location, and somewhere there's nearly $200 he can't get his hands on.

"Very frustrating. But the most frustrating part is I don't know how much money I spent in there," he said. "And you can't -- now you can't even win it back or anything else."

The man said he knows there are thousands of others in the same boat, all hoping that somehow they can get their money back. But Tom Stephens, of the Better Business Bureau, says that likely won't happen. And if someone were to listen, others would come first.

"The IRS is going to be here first in line," Stephens said. "Because now this organization that claimed itself to be a charitable organization and not pay taxes on that money is going to owe taxes. So the IRS is going to be there first."

Stephens said the best option for customers would be to hire a lawyer and file a class action lawsuit. He said that takes both time and money.

The man in this story admits he had a gambling problem. He said getting his cash back would be ideal, but at the end of the day, he said he's glad the operation has been exposed.

"In the back of my mind, I'm glad they closed them so I don't have to worry about going back in there and spending my money, taking from my family and everything else," he said. "Those places are very addicting."

Officials say if a class action lawsuit is filed and if they win, those named in the suit would have to divide that money among themselves.

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