TYLER/FLINT, Texas (KETK) - A local veteran contacted KETK concerned about the validity of an organization claiming to benefit veterans. On Monday, we spoke to two people who said they are former business partners with a man who they said is defrauding the community. On Tuesday, KETK spoke to the man they are accusing.
Daryl Peery and Jesseca Wilson said they are former business partners of Lance Cheatham in a company he created called Resort Point International or RPI Travelers.
"People buy into a travel club, a portion of that goes to send a veteran on vacation, these veterans don't owe anything except their travel and food accommodations," said Peery. "He (Cheatham) needed us to help manage the day to day work load and to get all of the transfers and to get the vacations booked."
Wilson said their goal was to specialize in helping people get out of bad timeshare contracts and send veterans on vacations. However, she said Cheatham only paid her $250 over the course of three months.
"He is a super likable guy," said Wilson. "So, when he would say 'I can't pay you, I haven't got paid on this yet, but if you will finish this giant stack of paperwork for me then you can get paid,' but by the time I got to the end of the paperwork, he's like 'well, hey can you do this before you finish that?' I mean, there was a lot of stuff to be done. I thought it would be okay, but it's not. He's a likeable scam artist."
Peery said he and Wilson set up a new company and kicked Cheatham out.
"All of these timeshares that he was transferring into his cousins name, not the company's name. So, we have no legal authority or any contractual obligations to have that transferred to us. At that point we knew that it was all fraudulent, that there was nothing being done for veterans," said Peery.
They said the majority of the transfers are in Cheatham's cousin's name, but there are about four contracts left to transfer.
"We're just going to have to refund them all of the money," said Wilson. "I would say about $10,000 at this point just for the few."
Cheatham said RPI Travelers is designed to train timeshare owners how to use their timeshare or they can purchase a vacation from the company.
"So basically every time you purchase a vacation from RPI, we haven't sold any just for the record, but our plans our to send a veteran on a vacation when you book a vacation with RPI Travelers," said Cheatham. "RPI will give you a vacation voucher to give you access to my inventory that me and my cousin own. The man took a risk by putting timeshares in his name and owning up on maintenance fees on those timeshares where he can volunteer and send veterans on those accounts every year."
KETK was not able to contact Cheatham's cousin as of Tuesday night.
"I signed for one voucher. From there, they (Peery and Wilson) took it into their own hands to do more vouchers," said Cheatham.
The General Manager for Lake Palestine Resort, Larry Paxton, said he received some of the vouchers in exchange for food and lodging.
"I didn't know him very well but he was obviously needed a little money and didn't have a whole lot, so I took the offer," said Paxton. "He left with me four vouchers for a week stay to any place that I wanted to go."
Paxton said he tried to use the voucher, but no luck. The cost of food and lodging he provided Cheatham, he said amounts to about $1,200.
An established Tyler restaurant, who did not want to be identified, tells KETK they also exchanged about $300 worth of food for the vouchers.
"At the end of the day, if a certain person didn't do their job and I didn't know about the trade out or it didn't get taken care of and it comes back on me, then that's on me," said Cheatham. "I'll fix every client that has an issue because I didn't know there is an issue."
Cheatham has created multiple businesses through Facebook, all in an effort to become a non-profit. One of their main businesses is National Silicone Roofing. However, they said no money has been made so far and no veterans have been on a vacation.
"After everybody gets paid, after our installer and everything else gets taken care of, our promises are fulfilled, then we take whatever is left over and put that into Pulling Strings for Veterans," said Cheatham's new partner, Chris Black.
Black said Pulling Strings for Veterans is an event happening November 26 and they're hoping to hold it at the Cumberland Village in Tyler.
"Our goal is to get as many organizations that help with veterans at this one spot, so all these people can come in and say 'oh wow, I didn't even know that was there.' The easiest way to hurt people, not just veterans, but people, is not being involved and not helping," said Black. "We're trying to help, we're doing everything that we can to, we're using all of our resources and we've literally used all of our resources to get this off the ground and running. Are we perfect? No. Are we going to make mistakes? Absolutely."