Founders of new food delivery business in Steamboat Springs were involved in travel company scam
December 2, 2014
Investigators with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office were intrigued this week when they learned about Andy and Bethany Wunder’s new restaurant and alcohol delivery business in Steamboat Springs.
That’s because for the past few months, the investigators said they have been working to locate the Wunders to serve them with a multi-million dollar judgment stemming from the couple’s previous involvement in a Broomfield-based travel company that Attorney General John Suthers deemed to be a “scam” following an extensive investigation.
In August, a district judge agreed with Suthers’ assessment and ordered Andy and Bethany Wunder and two of their family members who also were running Sea to Ski Vacations to pay more than $7 million in restitution and penalties to consumers as punishment for using the business to deceive customers.
The travel company was shut down, and the Wunders also were banned from starting up any other travel-related businesses.
Andy and Bethany Wunder recently moved to Steamboat to operate a new company called Steamboat Delivers.
They’ve also avoided being served the judgment against them and their former business, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
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Suthers alleged that the Wunders used Sea to Ski Vacations to sell bogus vacation memberships for as much as $9,000 and then used Priceline and Expedia to book travel.
The Wunders also reportedly used aliases, made photocopies of airline travel vouchers and threatened to fire employees who spoke to customers trying to cancel a membership within the 72-hour cancellation period, according to the complaint filed by the Attorney General’s Office.
"Consumers complained that they were told membership in the travel club would entitle them to deep discounts on condos and cruises," Suthers was quoted as saying in a news release following the judge’s decision to order the Wunders to pay the restitution. "Yet, after paying as much as $9,000 for a membership, the Sea to Ski 'deals' were no better than what the consumer could purchase on popular Internet travel sites. We proved that the Wunders were operating a scam."
When the Wunders learned the Attorney General’s Office was investigating Sea to Ski Vacations, they changed the company name to American Travel Planners, the complaint alleges.
Bethany Wunder managed the travel agents at the company, and Andy Wunder said Monday that he was the director, though the Attorney General’s Office alleges Andy Wunder presented himself as the owner of the company during presentations and signed documents under the title of “President.”
He also sometimes used the alias “Mark Dutell,” according to the complaint.
Andy Wunder said this week that he is “extremely proud” of his past involvement in the travel company and a very small number of the company’s clients complained about it.
He called the complaints against Sea to Ski Vacations “ridiculous.”
The Attorney General’s Office alleged there were 1,750 customers subjected to the Wunders’ deceptive business practices.
Carolyn Tyler, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, said Monday that Andy and Bethany Wunder have been difficult to locate since the judgment was issued and they are the last two of the four defendants that the office is working to serve.
She said Andy Wunder’s brother, Stephen, and Andy’s son, Christian, have been served the judgment.
Tyler added that it’s important to serve the remaining Wunders so that the restitution payments can begin and the victims of the scam can get justice.
Andy and Bethany Wunder haven’t been keeping a low profile here in Steamboat in recent weeks.
Last month, Andy Wunder reached out to the Steamboat Today requesting a story about the delivery company he and his wife started here.
Their new business, Steamboat Delivers, delivers food, alcohol and miscellaneous items from local restaurants and businesses and was featured in the Steamboat Today last month.
When she was interviewed for the story, Bethany Wunder did not disclose her work history at Sea to Ski Vacations when she was asked about her previous business experience.
The Steamboat Today has not heard of any complaints about the new business the Wunders are running here, and Tyler said the Wunders are not violating the terms of the judgment by running it.
The newspaper called the Attorney General’s Office on Monday to discuss the court proceedings against the Wunders. The investigators then learned the Wunders were here in Steamboat running a new business.
Reached by phone to discuss their previous business dealings, Bethany and Andy Wunder said Steamboat Delivers has nothing to do with the travel business they previously were involved in.
Andy Wunder said he thought an appeal was being filed, and he expressed confidence that the judgment would be overturned.
He also distanced himself from the company, saying he and his wife weren’t owners.
Andy Wunder told the newspaper that it would be hearing from his lawyers if it proceeded to write a story about Sea to Ski Vacations. He then hung up.
Minutes later, Wunder called back and arranged to be interviewed Tuesday morning about his former business dealings.
He canceled the interview 30 minutes before it was to begin, saying in an email that he was sick and he couldn’t make it.
In that email, Wunder wrote that “I do not know how the case stands or how it is progressing.”
He also defended his former company and criticized members of the Attorney General’s Office.
“We moved here to start our financial lives over and enjoy this community,” Wunder wrote. “We respectfully ask you to refrain from writing an article that is irrelevant and misleading for no other reason than salacious editorial content. At some point, someone must take a stand and not do the dirty work of a disgruntled, public servant who cannot get the job done in the courtroom.”
He added that “after spending over $100,000 defending and winning the injunctions we ran out of money and could no longer fight these ridiculous claims against a prosecutor with unlimited public resources.”
Shortly after Wunder canceled his interview, a man claiming to be his son, Christian Wunder, emailed the newspaper requesting the story not be written.
Christian Wunder claimed to be the sole owner of Sea to Ski Vacations, according to the complaint filed against the company.
He also criticized the Attorney General’s Office and said a full appeal is being filed.
The Attorney General’s Office said there have been no new developments in the case since the $7 million penalty was ordered against the four Wunders in August
It was a summary judgment from a judge, meaning the case did not proceed to a trial. The judge determined the Wunders had violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
The case against Sea to Ski Vacations and the Wunders was a civil case, not a criminal one.
Steamboat Delivers was continuing to accept delivery orders Tuesday afternoon.
As of Tuesday morning, the Attorney General’s Office hadn’t served Andy and Bethany Wunder with the judgment against their former business.
Read the complaint against the Wunders’ previous business and the judge’s order below.