In a complaint filed on March 30th, travel merchant Viva Voyage has accused WorldVentures of “illegal conduct (that) greatly endangers the public”.
Viva Voyage describes itself as a “Nevada Limited Liability Company” run by three members; Geoffrey Silvers, Scott Silvers, and Walter Silvers.
Although the company is a Nevada Limited Liability Company, very little of the company’s operations occur in Nevada, and the company’s principal place of business is in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Pursuant to WorldVentures being a pyramid scheme, Viva Voyage reveals that prior to signing a three-year contract with the company;
Rovia was selling a high volume of cruise packages where the vast majority of the packages that they sold were at a loss.
To place this in perspective, this means that each cruise package sold by Rovia, the sole source of income for the company, placed the company further into debt.
Rovia is the travel arm of WorldVentures. Both companies are operated under the umbrella of Spherature Investments.
Spherature Investments is owned by Wayne Nugent, Daniel Stammen, Michael A. Azcue and Kenneth J. Doherty.
Viva Voyage claims that since taking
control of Rovia’s cruise ship bookings, nearly every cruise booked by Viva Voyage on behalf of Rovia customers has been profitable.
Viva Voyage’s beef with WorldVentures pertains to “continuous and systematic violations” of the contract between the two companies.
Rovia’s recalcitrant attitude toward holding its clients’ funds in a trust account which necessitated the filing of an initial action and seeking injunctive relief from the Court in order to protect the public from Rovia’s behavior.
Citing “Seller of Travel” laws in the US, Viva Voyage states that WorldVentures is required to maintain customer funds used to book trips in a trust account.
The purpose of these laws is to protect the public from fraudulent and negligent behavior.
Viva Voyage alleges that
instead of Rovia setting aside client funds that have been paid for a trip … Rovia utilizes the funds from new customers to pay for the operating expenses of its parent company, WorldVentures Holdings, or to pay for the trips of earlier customers.
This allegation is based on correspondence with Maria Kozova, Rovia’s former Chief Financial officer.
Viva Voyage learned of this conduct when Viva Voyage reached out to her to determine the reason that payments for trips were being delayed by Rovia and because Rovia employees were telling Viva Voyage that Rovia did not have any money to pay Viva Voyage.
Viva Voyage could not understand how Rovia did not have money to pay Viva Voyage given that all of the trips it booked were paid for by a customer in advance.
Viva Voyage claims at times WorldVentures had owed them in excess of $100,000, which they themselves have had to cover to pay for booked customer trips.
Although it is widely known amongst the employees at Rovia that the company engages in this illegal conduct, (Jerre) Fuqua, a former Senior Vice President for Travel Products at Rovia, acknowledged to Viva on numerous occasions that Rovia engages in this activity, that it is illegal under numerous state and federal regulations for Rovia to engage in this activity, and that Rovia will cease from continuing to engage in the conduct.
However, despite these assurances from Fuqua, Rovia continued to use client funds for unauthorized purposes.
The individuals engaging in this illegal conduct were Rovia, WorldVentures Marketing, and WorldVentures Holdings, Wayne Nugent, and Jerre Fuqua.
Nugent, who sits on the board of all three companies, and is one of two owners of the parent WorldVentures Holdings, is the individual who directed Rovia, through Fuqua, to engage in this improper conduct of transferring the money to WorldVentures Marketing or WorldVentures Holdings instead of having the money remain in a trust account.
At the express direction of Nugent; Fuqua, knowing that the conduct violates Seller of Travel laws, refused to comply with the Seller of Travel laws and personally engaged in the torts in his individual capacity by transferring the money coming into Rovia to other WorldVentures companies instead of into a trust account as mandated by the Seller of Travel laws.
Both Nugent and Fuqua personally benefit from this practice financially since this activity helped keep the various WorldVentures companies afloat, and thus, both Fuqua and Nugent continued to derive income from the respective entities.
In addition to the conduct described above being illegal, it also violates Section 10.2.2 of the Master Services Agreement.
Prior to being “managed” by Wayne Nugent, WorldVentures COO Michael Poates was reportedly running around telling people he had incriminating dirt on Nugent.
Whether Poates was referring to the conduct alleged above or something else remains unclear.
Nugent and Poates are still working side-by-side at what’s left of WorldVentures.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Jerre Fuqua (right) left Rovia in July 2020.
In addition to misappropriating customer funds, Viva Voyage also claims that WorldVentures has impersonated them.
Since June, 2020, in an effort to gain information about refunds Viva Voyage has received, as well as to obtain information about cruise bookings, Rovia has impersonated Viva Voyage by calling a number of cruise lines and misinforming the cruise company that the individual calling is from Viva Voyage when in actuality the individual is an employee of Rovia.
These ongoing calls have been made to – at least – Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines. In each instance, an individual named Christine called Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines to obtain information concerning cruise bookings and refunds.
Christine identified herself as an employee of Viva Voyage in order to obtain the information. Christine misidentified herself due to the fact that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines would not have provided the information she sought as the information would only be disseminated to an individual employed by Viva Voyage.
In all of these instances, which have occurred since June, 2020 and continue through the present, Christine called Norwegian or Royal Caribbean at their Miami, Florida headquarters and provided the false information in order to obtain information concerning cruise bookings and refunds.
When confronted, Rovia doubled down on the fraud.
Incredibly, Rovia has such a cavalier attitude toward this behavior that emails from counsel in this case have indicated the Rovia will continue to verify refunds that Viva Voyage has received from cruise lines.
This is despite the fact that the cruise lines would not provide the information without Rovia falsely stating that they are calling on behalf of Viva Voyage.
At the behest of Jerre Fuqua, Rovia sought to terminate its contract with Viva Voyage in early 2020.
According to Fuqua, Rovia was having financial trouble due to COVID-19 and that they needed to make some “difficult decisions”.
Fuqua went on to state that the company could no longer pay for the contract with Viva Voyage.
As a result, he requested that Viva Voyage be a “team player” and accept a 91% discount on the price that it is paid on a monthly basis under the Contract.
Viva Voyage declined Rovia’s request.
Across five counts, Viva Voyage is suing WorldVentures for
- willful injury;
- money obtained by false pretenses, false representations, or actual fraud;
- fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity;
- embezzlement; and
Stay tuned for updates as we continue to track the case.