Imagine you have a curiosity for the paranormal…scratch that, if you are reading this article, you do not have to imagine. So, imagine you want to go investigate a paranormal location with a couple of friends, but the cost of doing a private investigation is too much. However, you see this news article about a company that does public investigations at the exact location you want to investigate. You excitedly reserve the tickets for you and your friends by paying the deposit and you patiently wait until October for your investigation, but then you see a TikTok that the company has gone bankrupt and closed. No emails, no phone calls, absolutely no communication letting you know that this has happened. Now you are left scrambling to get your money back and trying to get answers as to why this happened.
This is the reality for Courtney from North Carolina, who had paid GhostHunts USA a deposit for herself and her friends to explore the Battleship North Carolina. She had seen an article in the newspaper about GhostHunts USA and visited their website. Seeing that it was, “pretty legit,” she thought, “Okay, cool!” She ordered 3 tickets for herself and her 2 friends for the October investigation using her Capital One Credit Card. She received the confirmation emails and went online to fill out all the waivers that are required. She thought that they would reach out when it was closer to the time of the event to confirm everything. But then, a couple weeks later she happened to be scrolling TikTok and happened to see BJ the Webguy from the Unrefined Podcast discussing GhostHunt USA going out of business. Courtney thought this was really weird because she did not get any notification that the event was canceled.
She went to GhostHunt USA’s Facebook page to see that the following post was made, dated April 5th:
“After nine years of everything paranormal, we have made the tough decision to close Ghost Hunts USA effective immediately. The last few months have been very challenging, and we have reached a point where the business cannot continue in its current state. We would like to thank thousands of you who have become friends over the years and passionately supported our business.
Next Steps. All future events are canceled immediately. If you have a ticket to a future event, please contact your credit card company or bank and request a refund through their chargeback process. Similarly, if you are awaiting a refund for a canceled event or have reached out to request a refund for an event you cannot attend, please contact your credit card company or bank for further assistance. Today is also the last day for all of our team members, who we would like to thank for their commitment and dedication to making our events the best possible experience that they can be for our guests. Thank you from all of us at Ghost Hunts USA for the last nine years.”
Courtney said that she left a Facebook post that went unanswered and sent an email to GhostHunts USA that also went unanswered. Courtney’s only other option was to file a dispute with Capital One and she thought, ”Oh, well the company went out of business and I was unable to receive my purchase, so this should be pretty straightforward.” Courtney told me that they initially gave her the money back but about a month later they came back with a document that said that her dispute was denied and “that she received her services and that they were in good condition.” That was the statement from GhostHunts USA in response to Courtney’s dispute. Now this isn’t some sort of fluke, if you go onto GhostHunts USA group on Facebook, you will see multiple people stating the same story, that their disputes were denied because they “received their services and that they were in good condition.” Courtney felt confused because clearly, she did not receive her services in good condition. Her concern turned towards her bank as to why nobody questioned this response from GhostHunts USA. Courtney said, “Credit card companies don’t really pay attention, I guess.”
She decided to follow up with a secondary dispute with her credit card company. Now at this point in the interview, she had not yet named, Capital One, but I flat out asked her what the name of the company was so I could reach out to their PR team about this story. If you have a credit card and you are supposed to have fraud protection, then in my opinion that company should honor it. So, Capital One said she needed to provide all this documentation to process this claim and send it to them in the mail. Courtney told me that is exactly what she did, she printed out the email that said, “We went out of business and that you need to get your money back from your credit card company.” She printed out the receipt for the event which showed the October 2023 date on it, she provided all the documentation necessary and included a complete one-page letter explaining everything.
Then one day she received a letter in her account messages that said, “You didn’t provide us with all the documentation that we needed,” but not specifying what she didn’t provide, and that “the matter is closed.” Basically, they said she had no more chances to reach out on this matter. Instead of just sitting there accepting defeat, Courtney was like, “Well that’s not going to work for me to just sit on that!” She told me that she is “lucky enough” that she is okay, financially this isn’t going to break her budget, but she imagines a lot of other people that have paid full price for these tickets and they are not going to get their money back, that “its gotta hurt.”
We continued to talk about the situation and how GhostHunts USA has had a shady history of allegedly not paying locations, allegedly not paying employees, and that what they are allegedly doing amounts to wire fraud and credit card fraud. After the interview, I went straight away to contacting Capital One’s media relations department to get their comment on why they were not protecting their credit card members. Within an hour of me sending an email to their credit card media relations person, I received an email from someone at Capital One asking for Courtney’s phone number so that someone in their corporate escalations team could reach out to her. I messaged Courtney and I was able to get her phone number forwarded to Capital One and then we waited. I got a response back from Capital One 3 days later from Annie on the Corporate Communications team with the following response.
I’m reaching out to you from Capital One’s Corporate Communications team. Katie is out of the office today so I wanted to circle back with you.
I’m happy to let you know that we’ve resolved this issue as desired by the customer. Courtney will be getting a notification in the mail in the next 5-7 business days in regards to the resolution.
This is a promising step. However, it shouldn’t take someone from the media to step in and help people out. That’s why I am encouraging anyone that is a victim of GhostHunts USA to start filing police reports and complaints with their state’s Attorney General’s Office to hopefully get some recourse.
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Locations and customers were not the only ones losing money, so were employees of GhostHunts USA. I spoke to a former employee that wanted to remain anonymous as they fear there will be retaliation for speaking out. They told me that last summer was when they suspected that something was going on behind the scenes. People were getting fired and they were all overworked. Ghosthunts USA wasn’t keeping their word, and employees were being sent to locations over 8 hours from home, schedules for the week were not being done until the last minute, the hotels that they were sent to were disgusting, and the cheapest they could find. Most of the employees were not getting paid their hourly wages or their gas reimbursements. GhostHunts USA would also cancel on locations last minute, literally on the day of these investigations. Several locations actually started to ask GhostHunt USA tour guides why they weren’t getting paid money. GhostHunts USA allegedly blamed it on their payroll company, but it was a constant thing where employees and locations were not getting paid. Eventually locations started dropping GhostHunts USA because of not getting paid, and GhostHunts USA tried to get employees to sign nondisclosure agreements and non-compete clauses.
I have reached out to Andrew Spitz, the owner of GhostHunts USA, via phone and text numerous times for comment. I was sent to voicemail and my texts for comment have been left unanswered. Like the paranormal, this leaves me unfortunately with more questions than answers. What happened to the money that customers paid? Only time can answer this question, and hopefully law enforcement and the courts can get the answers and help get the money back for the victims of GhostHunts USA
(below is an email sent to a staff member of Ghost Hunts USA)