Everybody’s got a story, and some of us have more than one. In the tale that Jeffrey Nahom likes to tell, he’s a hard-working entrepreneur who’s hit a run of bad luck.
In the version he’d rather not talk about, though — the version documented by court judgments, exposed in investigative TV reports and detailed in customer complaints on consumer-protection websites — there’s a long list of unhappy people using words like “nightmare” to describe what it’s like to do business with him and his companies.
In that story, Nahom and his travel companies — First Class Cruises and First Class Vacations — are regularly accused of ripping off customers and business partners.
One of those business partners, the Washington Commanders, said last week they would drop out of a planned First Class Cruises promotion — a deal that offered football fans a chance to sail the Caribbean with a handful of former Redskins greats — because of “significant changes made by First Class Cruises to the original offering, including cruise line, destinations and dates.” The team announced the cruise was off after I contacted them for a column on the shady promotion that I wrote last week.
Bur in Nahom’s version of the tale, the Commanders are the bad guys. “The Commanders are lying,” he said after I tracked him down to ask how the Commanders deal went sour.
“They are full of s—- and I have proof of that. That is a false story,” he said, referring to the Commanders statement.
Then my new friend told me what he was going to do for me. “I am going to decide very soon if I am going to give you the real scoop,” he said. “I will decide soon, and I have every email to back up everything I would tell you.”
I received this follow-up email from Nahom after our conversation: “The statement made by the Commanders is not accurate and will be rephrased shortly by the Commanders. Once it has been reworded to accurately tell the reason why the Fan Cruise is not moving forward I’ll let you know.”
The Commanders response? “We stand by our statement,” a spokesperson said.
Let’s face it, credibility is as hard to come by in this story as lifeboats on the Titanic.
Nahom did give me the “scoop” about the numerous questionable business practices I outlined in last week’s column — from the failed Philadelphia Eagles fan cruise to the $1.35 million judgment against him and the many complaints filed by angry customers with the Better Business Bureau and other agencies.
The Eagles fan cruise was canceled twice — a victim of COVID — but fans grew so frustrated over the failure of getting their money back that they went to a local Philadelphia television station for help. They would get their money back, but sources familiar with the process told me the team issued the refunds and told Nahom to “keep quiet.”
The team officially said the refunds were a cooperative effort between both First Class Cruises and the Eagles. Nahom said that was the case, and claimed he went into his own pocket to refund large sums of money to Eagles fans. “We both, we were partners on the deal and we both together decided to refund everybody because it was canceled two years in a row because of COVID,” he said. “It just took a very long time for that cancellation contract to go through and for them to refund the money. Myself, knowing that the money was being refunded, I actually refunded the first couple of hundred thousand dollars out of my pocket because I thought it would be much quicker and those funds would come in and it just took a long time.
“I can’t tell you details down to the dollar, but we both did it and I lost a lot of money on that,” he said. “I didn’t ask for it back from anybody. It is what it is.”
The benevolent victim.
Then there was the $1.35 million default judgment against them by a creditor in Broward County courts in July 2021. It was filed by a court-appointed receiver for a company called TCA Global Credit Master Fund, which had been shut down by the SEC on fraud charges. Nahom called it a “Ponzi scheme.”
“My business was doing very well at the time,” he said. “We wanted to go public and they said yeah, we can help you with the investment bank and everything. My attorney and I, we were going to countersue them because they didn’t provide any services for the fees they were charging, and it came out to 99 percent interest. It is what it is.”
But they didn’t countersue, and the court-appointed receiver is pursuing the judgment, with interest accruing every day.
I had reported Nahom’s First Class Vacations got roasted in another televised report out of Kansas City in 2018 — a woman named Wendy McDermott, who said Nahom’s company cashed her check for $3,600 for an Alaskan cruise in 2018 — only to find three weeks before the cruise was to take off, “We had no airfare, we had nothing. It was awful.” McDermott said she got $2,300 back of her money and made the reservations at the last minute herself.
Nahom acted as if he barely remembered her name. “Some lady, it made it seem like she wasn’t given a full refund,” he said. “I don’t remember exactly what happened with this Wendy McDermott. There was some type of an issue. As a matter of fact, I saw something on there … I don’t remember the particulars.”
It’s hard to believe that he would not remember the particulars of this woman. Wendy McDermott told me, “I called every day for two weeks multiple times. I bet I called them 30 times. I pissed them off. I went on Facebook. I went on Twitter. I went on YouTube. Their employees knew my name because I had called so much.”
The others — there are many others — sought help through agencies built to protect people from guys like Nahom.
So why did both First Class Cruises and First Class Vacations let their business licenses expire in Florida, as I reported in my column last week.
“First Class Cruises is a Nevada corporation and not required to have a license in Florida,” Nahom said. “They didn’t have an office in Florida. Now we did just renew it, we are getting our bonding and are opening up an office down in Florida again.”
But those customers with issues against Nahom went to Florida for help — 37 complaints against First Class Vacations and two against First Class Cruises were filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Plus there were multiple complaints filed with the South Florida office of the Better Business Bureau — which gave First Class Vacations an “F” rating.
Nahom vowed, “Every single complaint will eventually get resolved. It is what it is.”
I reminded Nahom he had the opportunity to make his case before my initial column came out — but he said he didn’t have time. Later he told me he was advised by his lawyer not to talk because of confidentiality. “I know,” my new friend told me. “I’m pissed off about that. I wanted to talk to you … I apologize for that but hopefully since I am giving you facts here and you can do that.”
The facts. As Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “The truth is more important than the facts.”
And, as Jeffrey Nahom likes to say, this is exactly what it is.
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.