Scammers targeting small businesses to be vendors at fake events

NOW: Scammers targeting small businesses to be vendors at fake events

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.--- Scammers are targeting small businesses to be vendors at fake events. The scammers say the events will be held at the Gillespie Event Center on July 17th and August 7th, but it turns out no such event is taking place.

"The event was outside," said Kassandra Coleman, who owns LadyCole Cosmetics. "They say if your pay $80 they will help you set up and tear down which no event actually does that."

Kristin May, a Norawex consultant, says she actually sent money to the person via PayPal. Both women say they were ghosted when they started asking more questions. 

"As soon as I said ‘Hey I found out this is not a legitimate vendor event can you please give me back my money?’ she started unsending all of the messages," said May. 

May says she's been working with her bank to recover her money, but there's no guarantee she will get it back.

"Since I sent it through ‘friends and family’ this is a big lesson learned, don’t send anything through ‘friends and family’ if you don’t personally know the person," said May. "I was new with PayPal I hadn’t used it much but you cannot get your money back if you send it through ‘friends and family."

May says she called Mishawaka Police but she's afraid the catfishing is so broad it will be hard to trace. 

"They have been making new pages because the same one that messaged [Coleman] isn’t the same one that messaged me and I’ve seen a couple more since then," said May.

Coleman says although this person isn't trustworthy, she's still not giving up on growing her business.

"Don’t let this discourage you because there are companies that do real events," said Coleman. "Call the company, make sure everything is right."

The Better Business Bureau says to do research and ask for references before making any payments.

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