Valdosta Fitness Club Owner Denied Bond, Now Facing More Charges

By: Kim Carapucci Email
By: Kim Carapucci Email

UPDATED 6:22 PM (5/11/09)

A fitness club owner arrested last week is now facing additional charges in a credit card fraud scheme.

Valdosta Police arrested 46-year-old Michael Vona on Friday in front of the Boom Fitness Club.

Mike Vona of Boom Fitness is now facing twelve counts of identity theft --- that's up from the 8 counts he faced on Friday.

Police say he's been pulling thousands of dollars from his clients' bank accounts.

The Valdosta Police Department spent today typing up reports from the town's most recent fraud victims.

So far, 35 Boom Fitness members have filed police reports, stating they've had money withdrawn from their bank accounts without authorization.

"We've had people that join on a monthly basis for ten dollars a month and come to find out within a month they've had $100-$150 taken out of their account. It's bad that people go to a place to make themselves better and come to find out they're getting ripped off," said Officer Brian Becton of the Valdosta Police Department.

Police say fraud victims continue to flood their station and their detectives are working hard to investigate each and every report.

The judge did deny bond for Mike Vona. Officers say they have reason to believe Vona is a flight risk, meaning if he did post bond and leave jail, he may not show up for his trial.

Police say this has been going on for at least two to three months and they say Vona has NOT given a reason as to why he took the money.

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Updated 11;51 a.m. (5/11/09)

Valdosta Police Department has charged Mike Vona with four more counts of credit card fraud.

Vona is now charged with 12 counts of credit card fraud.

Also, a no-bond has been issued for Vona since authorities believe he poses a flight risk and may flee the country if bonded from jail.

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Shrinking waistlines turn into shrinking bank accounts for some members of a Valdosta fitness club.

Now, police have arrested the owner in connection with multiple cases of credit card fraud.

Around 3 PM on Friday, Valdosta Police arrested 46-year-old Mike Vona in front of the Boom Fitness Club in Valdosta. They say he's been pulling money from his clients' bank accounts.

Strapped in handcuffs, Michael Vona is the number one suspect in a credit card fraud investigation at a fitness club.

When asked if he took money from his clients, Vona responded, "Absolutely not."

Vona is the former owner of Boom Fitness Club in Valdosta, where police say he illegally took thousands of dollars from his clients' bank accounts, including Valdosta Police Captain James Waters.

"On Tuesday of this week I overheard another officer complaining about a fitness center called Boom Fitness," said Waters.

Waters had no idea trying to get fit would lead him to become a fraud victim.

"He was telling me that he had some illegal, unauthorized transactions from his checking account. So I called my bank to check on mine and sure enough, there was four unauthorized uses of my debit card," said Waters.

Police say Waters is one of many victims who are furious about their missing money.

"I feel like I've been betrayed. I trusted these people to do the right thing," said Jacquie Coker.

While these victims have lost more than just weight at this gym, the new owner is working hard to make sure each case is resolved.

"I just hope everybody gets their money back and all these issues resolved but it's in their hands now," said Scott Chapman, the new owner of Boom Fitness Club.

"The humorous part of this is when I went out to join, I told 'em I wanted to get lighter. I just didn't know they were gonna lighten my pocketbook, " said Waters.

Vona is being charged with eight counts of financial transaction card fraud.

Police say the victims will eventually get their money back, but they do not know when.


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