The competitors -- who include 2016 FloGrappling Prospect of the Year Thalison Soares -- believed they were paying for tickets to compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam this weekend and the IBJJF European Championships in Lisbon, Portugal, on Jan. 17-22.
But the athletes are claiming that the travel agent took the money without delivering the tickets, leaving them out of pocket and unable to travel.
"Many guys from Cicero Costha's, more than 30, signed up for the Europeans," says Silvio Cavans, a purple belt from the PSLPB Cicero Costha team.
Only eight didn't buy with this supposed travel agent. I lost 2000 reais (appprox $625), but I had friends and training partners who lost a lot more.The travel agent, who goes by the name "Junior" or "Floripa" became known to the young athletes by selling travel packages in late 2016.
A number of them, including Soares and No-Gi World and Pan champion Mayssa Bastos, bought tickets from him with success.
Jo Bill Pantoja, 21 years old from Ananindeua, Brazil, lost 7,000 reais ($2,187) when he paid for a travel package that included Abu Dhabi, Portugal and London.
"He said he sold tickets and had access to deals before they appeared on travels websites," Jo Bill said. "I bought one, and in December I went back for Christmas with my family."
Using tickets purchased through the agent, Jo Bill managed to travel three times within Brazil.
He gained the trust of all of us. Like always, we paid in advance.Well-known athletes, including Soares, Italo Moura and Jonas Andrade from the Cicero Costha team, lost their money and none will go to Lisbon to compete in the IBJJF European Championships.
It is understood that other athletes from various Sao Paulo-based teams suffered the same problem.
"I really wanted to compete. The money isn't even as important," Cavans said.
The issue has been registered with local police in Sao Paulo.