Parents Say DA Investigating Harmony International Canceled Band Trip

Parents of local students owed money after a canceled band trip tell NBC 7 Responds the San Diego County District Attorney’s office is investigating the company behind it all, Harmony International.

“It’s one of the most important experiences of my life, honestly,” said Jeremiah Carreras, “I plan on being a musician in my future.” 

Jeremiah said music is his passion so when his Miami, Florida high school band director announced a chance to play at Carnegie Hall, Jeremiah said he jumped at the opportunity. 

Harmony International was the company behind the trip. Jeremiah said his mother paid about $1,000 in online payments to the company. 

But in April, Jeremiah said he and other students learned the trip to New York City wasn’t going to happen. When their parents asked about refunds, they were directed to Harmony International’s attorney. 

Miami students are not alone. The circumstances surrounding the trip are similar to what happened with parents and students from four high schools in San Diego County. 

To read more about the local Harmony International trip to Japan that was canceled, click here

Last week, Dallas Morning News reported on 56 local families that are owed refunds for a canceled Harmony International trip to Europe. The paper says the reason given for the trip’s cancellation stemmed from fears of terrorism. 

Harmony International has filed for bankruptcy. In a Miami courtroom last month, the company’s owners, Brad and Margie Matheson refused to speak to our reporter. 

In court, the couple said they did not set aside any of the money trip participants paid towards these trips. According to the state Attorney General’s office, that’s a possible violation of California law. 

To read more about the state’s requirements for ‘sellers of travel tours’, click here

Parents of local students contacted NBC 7 Responds saying the San Diego County District Attorney’s office is investigating Harmony International. Documents shared with NBC 7 Responds show the DA’s office sent a letter and questionnaire to local band parents and students who claim to be owed money by the company.

NBC 7 Responds reached out to the District Attorney’s office regarding the letter and questionnaire sent out to parents. In an email, a spokesperson told us the office cannot confirm or deny an active investigation. 

According to the letter, the District Attorney’s Consumer Unit is trying to determine “if they were a victim of a crime” and included a two-page questionnaire, asking a number of questions including how much money was paid to the company and what promises were given about trip insurance policies. 

In a video shared with NBC 7 Responds, shot at the initial meeting with parents where the local trip to Japan was pitched, Brad Matheson discussed trip insurance policies. 

“If you register before March 1st with this group, you will receive free trip cancellation insurance,” Brad said, “We wanted to include that as an incentive to get you to register as early as possible.” 

Parents tell NBC 7 Responds the incentive worked. Parents say they felt confident they would get their money back if the trip was canceled. At the court hearing last month, Brad and Margie Matheson said no insurance policies were purchased. 

NBC 7 Responds reached out to an attorney representing Brad and Margie Matheson for this report but the attorney told us the couple has no further comments at this time.

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