Watch CBS News

After several people complain of Illinois man's travel scams, police take action

Police take action after complaints about Illinois man's alleged travel scams
Police take action after complaints about Illinois man's alleged travel scams 04:54

CHICAGO (CBS) – It started with one email, then several more came in.

People across the country made similar allegations about losing money to the same Illinois man. CBS 2 first reported last week about the claims of being scammed by Elliott Lawson Henderson, and there's been a significant development.

Mark Porter, a retired police officer, was waiting for a return on the $17,000 investment he said he made in Henderson's travel business.

Henderson told Mark in a video, "We can walk in the bank together and get the cash."

The pledge never panned out.

Porter said Henderson told him, "Oh, it's coming. It's coming."

"Then he stopped answering my calls," Porter added.

But it was Jasmyne Franklin who filed a police report against Henderson.

A nervous Franklin, in an audio message to Henderson, told him, "Let me know what's what. So I can stop shaking in my boots," after she also became an investor in his travel ventures. An invoice promised a profit of $16,500.

"He said if you put a certain amount down, you'll be able to get a return the next day," Franklin said.

Franklin connected with Henderson because they're both singers. She believed he'd perform with the investment opportunity, too. So Franklin sent Henderson almost $36,000.

"I'm a single mom," an emotional Franklin said. "I'm a young single mom, and that [$36,000], I had it set up to do some things with my kids."

She texted Henderson, "Nothing hit my account," and "???????"

"The next day, there was no – he had excuses," she said.

Franklin said she did receive a Western Union receipt from Henderson after asking for a refund multiple times. But no money came. She said the tracking number didn't work.

"Now I know that you're playing, and so when he did that, something in me was like, just Google his name," Franklin said. "And I Googled his name, and I was appalled."

She found a website, a petition, Facebook, and Instagram pages dedicated to Henderson and warning he was a "scammer."

"He manipulated all of us," said Pinky Jackson, one of six people CBS 2 spoke to on camera about their dealings with Henderson.

All of them claimed Henderson sold them some dream related to travel, but he didn't deliver.

Blanca Ramirez said he promised her unlimited flights for the year.

"He screwed me over," said Ryan Chavarria. "Four flights and a hotel. I didn't get none of it."

Tasha Richards said all Henderson did was "talk, talk, talk, talk, talk."

CBS 2 spoke to Henderson to try to understand his travel business, but he wouldn't allow the conversation to be recorded.

Henderson initially told CBS 2 via email, "I have no part in this and was also scammed."

"I'm a singer. That's it. That's all," Henderson said via text, adding, "All I did was refer [people]" to travel dea, ls and he "backed out three years ago."

But that timing doesn't make sense because less than a year ago, Franklin filed charges against Henderson with Streamwood police in March of 2023.

CBS 2 obtained the investigation report. Detectives wrote that Henderson told them five times he'd either come to the station or pay Franklin back, but he never did.

In May, police issued the arrest warrant. Since then, Henderson has performed in public multiple times. The singer advertised his whereabouts on his band's Facebook page month after month.

Detectives then took Henderson into custody at his recent Valentine's Day show.

His mug shot and arrest gave Franklin mixed emotions.

"You're pursuing someone going to jail," she said. "I don't know. I just have a heart, but at the same time, you need to be held accountable."

CBS 2 scheduled interviews with Henderson twice over Zoom, but he didn't show up. First he said via audio message, "Definitely wasn't me ignoring you. I was detained." But Streamwood police confirmed Henderson left their custody 24 hours before the scheduled interview.

The second time CBS 2 logged on for a Zoom interview with Henderson, his wife texted, "he is in court." But the courts were closed that day for President's Day.

CBS 2's efforts to get Henderson's story continued for weeks. We provided him with names of upset customers, and he reached out to some of them to try to pay them back. But they said he didn't follow through.

His theft case out of Streamwood is ongoing. All the people who spoke to CBS 2 agreed on a key takeaway: research before sending money to anyone offering a big payout or a deal that sounds too good to be true.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.