It was the word in the subject line that first got my attention. The word was "glamping". What in the heck is glamping? Well, as soon as you find out, it makes sense. It's a combination of glamour or glamorous and camping.

Here's the background:

Beginning in 2015, Bradley and Sandra Carlson advertised their company, Bella Solviva, as a “glamping”, or upscale camping, resort that was being built in the Antrim County area. (Antrim County is just northeast of Traverse City, with Bellaire the county seat and fancy Torch Lake in the county) Bella Solviva's website and confirmation emails indicated that customers would have the option to receive a refund if a reserved site was not built or not built in time for a reservation, according to the Michigan Attorney General's office. Despite accepting deposits from 2015 to 2017, the Carlsons never building the resort, and repeated requests for refunds from more than 30 customers were never refunded.

All this got authorities involved and sniffing the deal and charges were brought against the Carlsons. Last December, Bradley Carlson, 61, and Sandra Carlson, 58, were charged with five counts of "larceny by conversion between $1,000 and $20,000" in relation to the operation of their company, Bella Solviva Inc. And the company itself was charged with one count of larceny by conversion between $1,000 and $20,000 and one count of larceny by conversion between $200 and $1,000. This lead to no contest pleas.

Today, the judge sentenced the Carlsons to two years of probation, "during which time they may not engage in any venture capital activities." And the Attorney General's office says "the Carlsons were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $29,216.51 to the court by Oct. 18, which was already paid to their attorney’s trust account and will go to victims listed in the complaint as soon as the court is administratively able to process the payment."

The lesson here:

Well, there's a lot of people looking to get rich. A fancy website doesn't guarantee that a business offer is legitimate. Even if you do your due diligence (your homework) doesn't mean you can't get scammed.

At the same time, glamping? If you're looking for upscale or glamorous camping, maybe think about a motel or condo property near Traverse City.

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