Trip To Nowhere

This image provided by the El Dorado County, Calif. Sheriff's office, and taken Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009 shows Phillip Garrido. Garrido, a convicted sex offender, and his wife Nancy Garrido were arrested Wednesday Aug. 26, 2009 for the 1991 kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl who recently walked into a Northern California police station, authorities said Thursday, Aug. 27. AP Photo/El Dorado County Sheriffs

As a member of the Biker Divas, Georgiana Inturissi often rides her motorcycle to the New Jersey shore.

But she always wanted to ride down under.

"It has always been my dream to travel to Australia," she said. "I was going to go to Melbourne, then I was going to the Great Barrier Reef."

Georgiana went online to book her dream vacation, and found Wilborn Global Travel - a Tennessee-based company that promised the "ultimate level of luxury."

It also promised a bargain on her American Airlines flights to Sydney. So she booked her trip, paid by debit card, and in return, she was sent her itinerary and receipts for her $4,500 payment.

"I was showing everybody. I was very excited," she said.

But last month, just days before departure, Georgiana discovered she was going nowhere, reports CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski.

"It wasn't booked. He never booked it," she said.

Georgiana says she researched Wilborn's agency and even called the Tennessee Better Business Bureau. But it turns out that Jerry Wilborn, the company's owner, isn't a travel agent at all and his company isn't listed with any major travel agency association.

In fact, his claims of having deals with Holiday Inn hotels and American Airlines are also bogus.

In a statement to CBS News, American Airlines says it "does not have any relationship with" and "did not receive any compensation" from Wilborn and is demanding that he "cease and desist using our name on his site."

"Consumers in America lose billions of dollars each year on travel scams with the Internet," said Bob Whitely of the U.S. Tour Operators Association.

Whitley said these types of scams are all too common, but consumers can protect themselves by a healthy degree of skepticism.

"I would not hesitate to say, give me the e-mail address of past consumers so I can check them out before I buy your service," Whitley said.

For her part, Georgiana has demanded her money back. Wilborn has promised her both a refund and a free trip.

"You know it's a bunch of baloney," she said.

He also promised CBS News an interview, but neither has yet to happen.

So this week, rather than riding around the Australian outback, Georgiana is on the road in Clifton, N.J., hoping the next time she books a trip online, she's not taken for a ride.
  • Dan Collins

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