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ROY — A Roy company that sold hunting equipment and offered to take customers on hunting trips is under investigation for allegedly taking customers' money without delivering on its promises, according to new court documents.
Majestic Valley Outfitters, 3871 Foxglen Drive, and its owner, Tyler Ray Watson, collected more than $177,000 from customers who paid for hunting trips that they never went on, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 2nd District Court.
"At this time, there are 16 known victims that have paid large sums of money to be taken on guided hunting trips only to have the hunts canceled just before they are supposed to leave with the promise that they will be paid back, but they have yet to receive any reimbursement," the warrant states.
No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed. Roy police confirmed Tuesday, however, that the case is still an active investigation.
Watson said the problem is that the state's elk tags sold out faster than normal this year, and that he is still trying to pay those customers back.
"There was no criminal activity. I mean, I didn’t take people’s money and do this on purpose. It was just one of those things that was bad that happened,” Watson told KSL. "There’s nothing there. It was an honest mistake. It wasn’t criminal. … It was just a thing we didn’t have control over."
Police say the 16 alleged victims all provided investigators with copies of the checks they sent to Majestic Valley Outfitters. In at least one case, Watson did send a check back to a customer, but it was for the wrong amount and the amount that it was written for bounced, according to the warrant.
When police interviewed Watson, "each time he states the victim was the one that canceled the hunts," the affidavit states. However, some of the alleged victims gave investigators copies of notes from the owner "stating that he would have to cancel or postpone the hunt for different reasons," police wrote.
Watson told the Deseret News that he books land ahead of time for hunts and puts down his own deposits. But on eight of the planned elk hunt trips he booked land for, the tags sold out before he could get any, he said.
"I had no idea they were going to sell out that quick. It wasn’t anything that I had control over,” he said. "I can only do what I can do. We’re trying to make it work. We’re trying to make it right with these people. We paid back as much as we could. We don’t have a lot of money to work on … and no new money coming in. I can only work on what I can work on. It was just a terrible year."
According to the Better Business Bureau of Utah, the company as of Tuesday had a rating of D+ on the bureau's website and is not Better Business Bureau accredited. The company has also had at least one complaint filed against it to the bureau.
The complaint, filed in January, is from a person who claimed he booked a mule deer hunt with the company. Right before the scheduled hunt, the company "contacted me to tell me they did not acquire the land owner tags for the hunt and that the hunt was canceled. To date, Jan. 4, 2018, the money for the hunt still has not been refunded. The price of the hunt was $5,768," the man wrote to the Better Business Bureau of Utah. "I have now hired an attorney."
The search warrant written by police was for bank records.
"Watson misrepresented his business by promising the victims in this case a guided hunt and over the last three years has continued to use his business to offer hunting trips and then cancel just before the hunt is to take place and then never reimburse(s) the victims. Watson does not have a business license through Roy City to be operating any business and is not licensed as a outfitter with the state of Utah," the warrant states. "These records would also show account balance around the time the refunds were promised to show that Tyler had no intention of paying the victim back the money that was paid to him."
In July 2017, Majestic Valley Outfitters and its owner were sued for allegedly collecting a $42,000 deposit by a Utah group with the promise of giving them eight bull elk tags and taking them on a hunting trip in Nevada.
"Contrary to Watson's representation, neither Watson nor Outfitter ever had the Nevada elk tags nor rights to the elk tags as stated, and they knew that they did not have such rights," the lawsuit states. "Outfitter has refused to return the $42,000 deposit."
Watson contends that he made it clear to the customers beforehand that their deposits were nonrefundable, but he said he is still trying to pay those people back.
"I’ve told everybody, ‘Hey, if you’re willing to work with me, I’m willing to work with you, and we’re going to work through and get it paid off as soon as we can.’ I’ve paid as many people as I can as soon as I can. And that should show character right there. But when you’re trying to make it and your account is in the negative, you still have to live,” he said.
Watson said he has since shut down the company.
In August 2017, a Tremonton man filed a lawsuit against Watson for allegedly failing to give him the title to a truck that was sold to him for more than $15,000, according to the lawsuit. That suit was settled in February.