More than a dozen high school athletes show up for basketball camp that didn’t exist

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- College basketball is a hyper-competitive world, and that's why Tiamkea Rankin wasn't surprised by her nephew's request.

"This is all I want for my birthday," Rankin said her nephew told her.

He sent her a link promoting what's commonly called an exposure camp for serious high school players to show off their skills. The price for the one-day event was $100.

Rankin immediately went on the site's website, paid for the camp and forwarded him the confirmation she received.

The camp was the next day at HyVee Arena in Kansas City's West Bottoms. Rankin's nephew showed up along with more than a dozen other players.

But there was no camp.

In fact, no one from HyVee Arena was expecting them. And not a single person from Hoop Focus, the local company putting on the event, was even there to explain what had happened.

Rankin called Hoop Focus.

"Someone answered the phone. I say 'Hey is this Hoop Focus?' And they said, 'No, you have the wrong number.'"

Rankin double checked the number, and she had dialed the same number on the website. So she dialed again. Now no one picked up.

She posted a message on the Hoop Focus Facebook page. This time she heard back and was told that "due to a change in schedule from the facility, we are unable to host the event this weekend."

That's just a lie, HyVee Arena sales manager Woody Carter said. He said there was never any schedule change with his facility. The problem, he said, was that Hoop Focus had never reserved the arena.

"They wanted to do an event here," Carter said. "We sent the forms trying to get them booked. I didn't receive anything back."

In fact, Carter said he even warned Hoop Focus weeks earlier to stop advertising the event since the arena hadn't been reserved. Carter was angry that so many people were misled. One family drove all the way from Iowa to attend.

"For them to make that drive up here expecting to find something that doesn't exist, that hurt a little bit," he said.

To make matters even worse, Hoop Focus has a no-refund policy. None of this makes sense to Rankin, who was able to sign up for the event a week after it had supposedly been cancelled.

Rankin demanded a refund. Hoop Focus agreed, but when three days passed and she still didn't have it, she called FOX4 Problem Solvers.

Hoop Focus is owned by Ashton West, a 23-year-old former high school basketball star from Oak Grove. Problem Solvers tried to talk to West in person, but only got as far as the call box outside his family's gated home.

We left a message and West quickly called us back, apologizing for what he said was a computer error that allowed Rankin to register and pay for a camp that was already cancelled.

West said he had notified the other attendees by email of the cancellation. He said those that showed up must not have read the email.

The 23-year-old insisted he had a private agreement with HyVee Arena to hold the camp there -- something Carter said just isn't true.

Problem Solvers also learned that Hoop Focus still owes money to Park Hill South High School for a camp it held there last year, according to a spokeswoman for the school district. West, however, denied any money was owed.

As for Rankin, she finally got a refund, but not before having to contact her bank for help. She said she'll never pay for anything offered by Hoop Focus again.

"My nephew was so disappointed," she said.

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