SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - The FBI has taken over the criminal investigation of a Sandy Springs travel agency that failed to deliver mission trip plane tickets to churches across the country. The company is called Mission Trip Airfare.
Total amount of missing money so far? According to the FBI, it's at least half a million dollars.
"I've never seen anything like this in 29 years," Bill McAbee declared. He owns McAbee Travel, an agency whose main business is selling airplane tickets at wholesale prices to other travel agencies looking to book mission trips.
It made him feel good helping such wholesome endeavors.
"These customers are the most wonderful people." he stressed.
Last summer McAbee says he started doing business with Mission Trip Airfare. That wasn't so wonderful.
"Everything was fine until the middle of May," he remembered. "Then they bounced a draft and then that's when all the problems started."
Faith-based groups across the country discovered the Mission Trip Airfare tickets they worked so hard to save for -- tickets they had already paid for -- did not exist.
Some like One Plus God in Marion, Ohio. The group helps churches book and plan their mission trips. One Plus God had to borrow more money to buy their tickets a second time from a different agency so they could keep their promises to help communities in Haiti.
One Plus God told Sandy Springs police they're out nearly 100,000 dollars.
"In our wildest dreams we never did think this would happen," stressed Wayne De Wet, the director of One Plus God.
So if the churches paid the money, what happened to their tickets?
"That's the big question," agreed McAbee. "Where is all the money?"
We tried to get answers from Beth Greenhill, the owner of Mission Trip Airfare. She thought we were someone else when we pulled up to her house, then quickly made a beeline for her front door when she realized her mistake. She refused to answer any questions.
Churches say they also dealt with her brother Jonathan "Andy" Greenhill. But we couldn't find him. According to his Facebook page, he's been spending a lot of time traveling himself, posting pictures from Prague.
"We want to hear from the victims and we're still trying to get a grasp on just what happened here," explained FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett.
Because of the growing number of victims, Sandy Springs police turned over the case to the FBI. They tell us the amount of missing money has reached half a million dollars.
"We understand when individuals shell out money in good faith and the either don't get the goods and to make matters worse they don't get their money back," Emmett pointed out. "We understand that. Wire fraud is a very powerful federal statute that gives us at the FBI the nexus to investigate these types of matters."
One of the victims who's complained to the FBI is a veteran of the travel business, who admits he never saw it coming.
We're out $125,000," admitted Bill McAbee. "They kept the money and never paid us. I just assumed one day I'd get scammed on some far away destination. I never thought it would be in this business with this group of people... it just... I never thought it would be like that."
The FBI wants to hear from any organization that did business with Mission Trip Airfare but did not get their tickets. Call 770-216-3000.