Authors out of thousands of dollars after event is abruptly canceled

Authors out of thousands of dollars after event is abruptly canceled

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A group of romance authors contacted 12 On Your Side after an event, which many of them had already paid for, was abruptly canceled.

It appears refunds will not be happening.

It's a debacle and the alleged reason given for the cancellation reads like an excerpt from a horror novel.

Lauren Calhoun is accused of canceling a big affair for romance authors and readers after the event planner collected registration fees through a Paypal account.

Best-selling author and alleged victim Carey Heywood says, "There were people traveling from Canada to attend this event."

Calhoun's online profile says she's an open book but the authors say she's hiding.

Calhoun isn't answering emails, calls or Facebook messages from them or from 12 On Your Side.

Brandy Lynn is proud of her first book and was banking on selling it.

"55 authors is what they had counted paid the fees and I myself am out of $160," Lynn said. "That's food off my table, you know, from my family."

Danielle Allen has authored eight books and says she's out $250.

"Just for the table, I spent $145 but I ordered stuff," explained Allen.

The meet-and-greet was set for April 30th but, a mass e-mail on April 13 from Calhoun said the event was canceled because of alleged terror threats.

Calhoun added she was sorry and would issue refunds but now, no one can get a hold of her.

"Not only did you steal my money, but now you're lying to me as well," Allen said. "We know there was not a terrorist threat against the event."

A source supplied NBC12 with pages of transactions of debit card withdrawals at Walmart, a liquor store, numerous restaurants, a nail salon, Kings Dominion and more.

The address linked to the Paypal account led us to a trailer park in Culpeper.  Except for a barking dog inside, it appeared no one was home and no one answered the door.

"I don't think she intentionally set out to scam us but I think she used our money fraudulently," Lynn says. "I definitely think it's criminal. I mean we're talking over $10,000 easily."

Carey Heywood has written 13 books and is on two best-seller lists. She's out $180 dollars but says the amount is much higher for people with non-refundable airline tickets, event sponsors, and publishers that donated books.

"It's heartbreaking for many readers," Heywood says.

These authors have put together a new free event for RVA Romance Readers scheduled for Saturday from noon until 3 at the Chesterfield Central Library,
located at 9501 Lori Rd, Chesterfield, VA 23832 .