RALEIGH, N.C. -- The longtime friend of a celebrity ghost hunter is speaking out about fans' missing money.
A lot of former fans of Ryan Buell were angry that they paid for his lecture tour and never got refunds when it was canceled. One even traveled all the way from Denmark. One of the headliners for Buell's tour said thousands of dollars are at stake.
Chip Coffey is a well-known psychic and medium who was once part of the cable TV series "Paranormal State" with Buell. Coffey, Buell's friend, was scheduled to team up with the ghost hunter again for his "Conversations With The Dead Tour." He said Buell and his team, the Paranormal Research Society based the Raleigh-Durham area, organized the tour and were in charge of all the details.
But it was so unorganized, he had to bail on the United States tour in April, just days before it was supposed to start. "Venues weren't booked. Airline tickets weren't booked," Coffey said.
He said while he had no access to the ticket sales, he knows a lot were sold. "I know that the last accounting I had, with regards to ticket sales for the 'Conversations with the Dead Tour,' it was in excess of $80,000."
That doesn't include the tickets sold for the seven shows in Canada -- all canceled.
Now that Buell canceled the U.S. and Canadian tours, Coffey said he doesn't understand why ticket holders aren't getting refunds.
"I've been accused of throwing Ryan under the bus. I didn't throw Ryan under the bus, Ryan stepped in front of the bus and I jumped out of the way. Any smart business person would have done the same thing," Coffey said.
While neither Buell nor his team has responded to our repeated requests for comment, on Buell's Facebook page, he posted that health issues forced him to cancel the tour and that PayPal is responsible for ticket refunds.
However, just over the weekend it was posted on Buell's page that they're doing their very best to move the refund requests along.
As for Buell's medical issues, Buell's fans started out sympathetic after he canceled shows in 2012 claiming he was fighting pancreatic cancer.
Yet, when refunds weren't given out, we started hearing from them.
In late 2013, when Buell announced he was ready to tour again, he started selling tickets for this year. But none of the shows happened and that's why Coffey says he feels fans should get their money back.
"I'm not insensitive to the fact that Ryan is sick, I'm not. I pray for him every day. But that has nothing to do with business, pay someone to return the money, find a way to get the people their money back," Coffey said.
Click here to hear the raw interview with Coffey.
As for PayPal, the company wouldn't comment on the specifics of any PayPal account, but in general, a rep said, it does not hold any money, it just takes a broker fee.
PayPal has a buyer protection policy and can secure customers a refund only if it is filed within 45 days of purchase. It encourages customers to be cautious of buying from sellers who have delivery times longer than 45 days.
In some cases, Buell fans bought tickets months in advance so many aren't protected.
Several tickets holders who are still trying to get refunds shared with us emails from a PayPal rep which state in part, " After reviewing your transactions, I can confirm that these payments are in no way held by PayPal as they are still in seller's PayPal account after your payments were successfully completed on 21st Jan 2014."
The best advice? Dispute the charge with your credit card; some ticket holders have had success that way.
For Canada residents, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center on their toll-free line at 1-888-495-8501 or submit a form online.
You can also file a complaint with the NC Attorney General's Office.
If you're owed money from one of Buell's events, let me know on my Facebook page at Troubleshooter Diane Wilson WTVD.
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Ghost hunter Ryan Buell's longtime friend speaks out
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