UPDATED INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT END OF STORY, 8NEWS HEARD FROM THE N&M COACH LINES BUS DRIVER
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond youth dance team says they were scammed out of thousands of dollars ahead of a competition in Tennessee. Now, the team is stuck in RVA after their paid-in-full coach bus to Memphis never showed up on Friday morning.
Lakisha White is the director of Richmond’s “Heavy Hitterz” youth dance team, with dancers from 5 to 16 years old. On Friday, the group of about 40 dancers and parents was scheduled to leave at 5 a.m. for the long drive to Memphis, Tennessee.
The coach said about two months ago, she hired N&M Coach Lines to drive the team because it was available, affordable compared to other companies and because she’d heard good things about it from people in the community.
Now, she’s regretting ever spending a dime.
“We love to compete and we don’t back down from a challenge,” White said.
The team’s challenges are usually on the dance floor — but this time they’re popping up long before the music even starts.
“We’re stuck and we have no way to get there now,” White said.
The team’s ride never showed up.
“I was just so upset and wanted to dance,” 6-year-old Serenity told 8News.
According to the company’s website, N&M Coach Lines is run by Noreago Drumgoole. That’s who White said she gave $6,200 cash to drive them.
That total cost was reflected on a receipt she showed 8News a copy of and a copy of the contract she signed.
It’s money the team spent months fundraising for. Over the last two months, White said the team held four different fundraisers in order to have enough cash to go to the competition.
“We were good until he wanted extra money,” White told 8News. After she handed over the bulk of the payment this week, she said Drumgoole started demanding a few thousand more dollars.
“He acts like we owe him the money,” White said, “like no, we already paid you.”
White said with the financial help of a parent, the team agreed to give about $1,500 more to Drumgoole on Friday morning.
However, after he didn’t show, White said the business owner wouldn’t answer or return anyone’s phone calls.
“They blocked all of us. They just scammed us,” another dancer told 8News.
The business owner didn’t answer 8News’ calls either. On Friday afternoon, the Richmond Police Department confirmed that they’re investigating the incident.
“Most of these girls have not been outside of Virginia,” White said. “What we try to do is get them out to see different parts of the country. We try to keep them off the streets as much as possible into something positive.”
“You just took all the money that these kids worked for,” she said, directed at Drumgoole. The group, now pennyless, is unsure of what’s next.
“We definitely want to get them there. They have worked extremely hard,” the coach said.
The team is not only losing the thousands of dollars spent on the bus, but also the cost of non-refundable hotels and competition fees. The competition starts Saturday morning.
White is hoping to file a civil lawsuit in court.
UPDATE 10:45 P.M.: 8News heard from N and M Coach Lines bus driver and owner Noreago Drumgoole on Friday evening after the story aired. Drumgoole claims that he never received the contracted amount of $6,225 from the dance group, despite giving them a receipt for that amount.
“I wrote the receipt in advance thinking that you had the full amount,” Drumgoole said.
He said they can work out some kind of refund but he claims to not owe the team the full $6,000.
“She’s lying about that,” Drumgoole said.
During the Friday evening conversation, 8News discovered that Drumgoole is not licensed or insured to operate the coach bus and has not been for months. He told 8News he didn’t realize he was no longer licensed until today.
“I did not get a letter from the DMV at my address,” Drumgoole said.
He said he pushed the dance team’s bus trip departure from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. but after receiving calls from parents he became frustrated and decided not to show up.
The dance team wants Drumgoole to give them a full refund plus the cost of hotel and competition registration fees.