Scam or bad luck? Restaurant touring company goes out of business, customers claim losses

SEATTLE -- Customers of a popular Seattle restaurant touring company said they are out hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

White Moustache Urban Adventure Company suddenly shut down without notice, and several of their customers asked Q13 Fox News to investigate what happened to their money?

The company’s owner is now living in Hawaii while customers in Seattle believe they have been scammed.

“We have emails from him saying we’re all set on November 11,” said Kathy Craft. “Then we’ve got his postings saying on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook of the great time he’s having in Hawaii.”

Kathy Craft said she planned a holiday party for 19 people at her office.

“Other people were scammed and they should get their money back,” she said.

Kathy said she spent close to $3,000 for White Moustache to take her employees across Seattle for amazing food, but two days before the big day she learned everything had been cancelled.

“He emailed back that day and said not going to do it,” said Kathy, ”Out of business, tried to sell it, don’t have any money, see ya.”

Q13 Fox News reached White Moustache’s owner Bryce Lathrop by phone.

“I ended up losing my cars, losing my house in Seattle,” said Lathrop. “One friend got me a ticket and I’ve been staying with relatives.”

Lathrop said a divorce forced him to close up shop. He also said he doesn’t have the money to pay back at least 7 customers who never got their tours.

“The money that was already paid was spent on previous tours and back taxes for the State of Washington,” said Lathrop.

Even more customers shared their complaints about White Moustache on Yelp. Several people came forward claiming the company took their money and cancelled their tours.

The Better Business Bureau said it’s a glaring red flag for companies to ask for the entire bill up front instead of a smaller deposit.

“Make sure you use a credit card so it’s easier to dispute the transactions, not a debit card but an actual credit card,” said BBB spokesman David Quinlan. “Get everything in writing, understand the refund policies, the cancellation policies. If they refuse to give you a contract or a receipt, that’s a red flag. I wouldn’t do business with that type of company.”

Kathy said she scrambled and was able to find another location for her company’s holiday party. Now she’s planning to sue for all the money she’s out.

“His problems have become my problems and I just want my money back,” she said.

Lathrop said he plans to pay back everything that’s owed; he’s asking customers to reach out to him via White Moustache’s Facebook page.