Clients of Schofield salon say they paid hundreds of dollars for services they did not receive

Everest Metro Police are asking for people to come forward if they believe they have had money stolen from Meraki Salon and Tattoo
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 2:19 PM CST
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SCHOFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Customers of a business in Schofield are expressing their frustrations after they say they paid for services they did not receive. It comes as the Everest Metro Police Department asked for people to report if they believe they “have been a victim of theft” by Meraki Salon, formally known as Meraki Salon and Tattoo.

“(I feel) Angry, especially since I gave her a second chance.”

Nicole Wilke was a customer. She said she began to go to Jennifer Brooks’ salon about four years ago after a friend recommended her.

“I also saw the news story about her starting up her own business,” she said. “So I thought it was a really great place to get my business to.”

Brooks opened the salon in 2018. News reports from the time they opened told the story about how she and a former fellow inmate of hers decided to open the shop to help turn their lives around.

Wilke said she did not have any payment issues for the first few years. She stopped going for a period during the pandemic, she said due to the conversations she felt were unprofessional.

“This last fall, I decided to give her another try,” she explained. “COVID was done, maybe things settled down, and that’s when she started asking me to prepay for everything.”

It was a practice Wilke and other customers, like Krystal Mathie said they found odd.

Brooks asked Mathie to prepay.
Brooks asked Mathie to prepay.(WSAW)

“Just different,” Mathie messaged Brooks in October, based on screenshots Mathie provided and 7 Investigates reviewed. “Never paid someone to do my hair prior and then have to pay twice. That’s all. Usually pay after.”

“I’ll explain that to you when you’re here lol it’s just this one time I needed you to do that,” Brooks responded. She mentioned earlier in the conversation that she just needed the money for color supplies. She said Mathie would get a refund in one to three business days and indicated she was working with the payment app company (in this case Venmo).

Like Mathie, Wilke complied with the prepay request. They both had used Venmo, then Brooks told Wilke she did not receive the money. Wilke saw the money was taken out of her bank and Venmo accounts.

Wilke took a screenshot of her bank transaction, showing two payments of $70 to Venmo. Wilke...
Wilke took a screenshot of her bank transaction, showing two payments of $70 to Venmo. Wilke paid Brooks twice for the same amount through Venmo after Brooks told her she had not received the first payment.(WSAW)

“She said something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I accidentally had the wrong card hooked up to my Venmo. I’ll refund you what you sent me. Can you send it again?’ So I get it to the right account,” Wilke recalled. “And since I had gone to her for a few years and had no problems, I thought, ‘sure I mean, mistakes happen.’ So I sent it again, and then she said, ‘Hey, can you check if it’s still pending? I never received this one either.’ And that’s when I started to think something was wrong.”

Wilke said this happened multiple times. In total, she paid $420. She ultimately asked to cancel her appointment and get a refund.

“She said, Absolutely not. I can’t refund you what I don’t have from you. You never sent me anything. So how can I refund you? And it was a few days of messaging back and forth. I kept bugging her, ‘Hey, the money left my bank account.’ I sent her screenshots of my Venmo saying that it was pulled out of my account.’”

“What the hell,” Brooks questioned after Wilke sent the screenshot of her Venmo transactions on Nov. 13.

“It shows completed for me, maybe contact their customer service,” Wilke replied.

“I will,” Brooks said.

The next day Wilke said, “Hello, I have to cancel the appointment for the 17th, something came up. And I also never got that first $50 or $70 back. So if we could just do a refund and you can sell the shampoo and treatment products to someone else that way we can make rent this month.”

“Ok I will message them because I never got it either,” Brooks responded.

Wilke sent another screenshot of several completed payments to Brooks in her Venmo account. She asked that Brooks send a transaction breakdown like the one she had just sent. Previously, Brooks sent a screenshot of her account showing $0, but not the transaction page, “which doesn’t mean anything,” Wilke messaged.

“I will I’m working right now but when I get home I will. Ya that just meant there wasn’t anything in my Venmo balance. There wasn’t and (sic) transactions from you,” Brooks said.

Wilke asked again. Brooks said she would and that she contacted Venmo after what Wilke showed her the day before. Wilke asked that she send the screenshot “right now.”

“I am working- I have no WiFi and can’t open anything I just tried as soon as I’m home by my WiFi I’ll send :)”

“But you’re texting me on an app right now,” Wilke pointed out. The two were messaging through Facebook Messenger.

“My cash app nor my Venmo will open. Facebook either,” she responded.

“How odd,” Wilke said. “Weird the app you’re texting on works fine but no those.”

“Just spins,” Brooks said about the Venmo app. She sent a picture with the loading circle on it.

Later, Wilke asked again to give her a refund and that she was canceling the appointment and product purchase.

“If I didn’t receive it I’m not going to send it back I’m going to be waiting for them to message me so we can figure out what the issue is. I’m not really sure what you’re insinuating but yes I’ll cancel everything,” Brooks said.

She said she would send the money she received back, but anything she sent that she did not receive would have to be taken care of by Venmo. More than a day later, Wilke asks again. Brooks said she had not “gotten anything and I have to return some other things. I have had the flu so I haven’t got to the story. The treatment I mailed back and when they refund me I will send it to you. I have to return everything I’ve bought is what I meant I had to order everything.”

Wilke accepted waiting for the product refund but asked about the money prepaid for the services. Brooks mentioned she has to return things and she was going through some issues with the people in her business’ building so she had nothing extra to send.

Court records show the landlord for Brooks’ business space filed an eviction claim Oct. 19, with a hearing on Nov. 28 where the judge ordered for her to be evicted.

Wilke did not hear from Brooks after that last message. She disputed the transactions with Venmo. All but one that have been completed were denied, a few others are being processed. She only received $70 back so far.

A few months later, “I saw her business page make a post,” Wilke said. “She had opened a new location or done a remodel and I commented that she still owes me a refund. And before I know it, all these people are messaging me and commenting, saying they had the same thing happen. She quickly deleted my comment. And I was like, okay, something’s going on. So, I took the screenshots of the couple people that messaged me at the same story, I made a post. And the next thing I know it’s blowing up.”

More clients

Dozens of people reached out to her with their own screenshots of their conversations with Brooks, including Mathie. Mathie’s last appointment was at the end of October. She had paid twice after Brooks’ request and she was waiting for a refund.

Every few days, she would ask if Brooks had heard anything from Venmo. Brooks said she was not getting any answers when she messaged the company, so she was going to try to call. The next day after Mathie asked again, Brooks said she was on a call-back list and sent another email.

A couple of days later, after Mathie continued to ask, Brooks said she had not heard anything.

“I’m irritated cause there’s another person this happened with,” she expressed, affirming that she could use the second payment for another appointment. Mathie agreed, saying to let her know when she was available.

Brooks also mentioned there was a sale on shampoo, $50 for two sets and that the sale ended that night. Brooks messaged just after midnight. Mathie responded saying she could put the money she already paid towards the purchase.

“I thought we were using it for the color? We have to do one more full I only have cash I didn’t get a chance to throw in the bank so I would need it to order if that’s ok,” Brooks said, asking for an additional $50 to be sent through Venmo.

She repeatedly asked if she was sending it saying she didn’t have much time and was falling asleep. Once she received the payment at nearly 2 a.m. Nov. 15, she thanked Mathie and said to let her know what day worked best for the appointment. Hours later, Mathie asked about Nov. 21. She did not hear from her for days except for one reply saying she was at work and she would look soon.

The day before, Brooks said the appointment would not work for Nov. 21. Mathie asked why and Brooks said she had previously told her she was sick, though that was not stated in the previous messages.

On Nov. 21, Mathie asked how she was and asked if she was available for a hair appointment. Brooks said she was booked all day. She asked about Thanksgiving, but said she was unavailable and was going out of town, but mentioned Friday. Mathie asked if she was available days before and on Friday and Brooks said she was not, it will have to be next week. Mathie said she was unavailable and might just need a refund.

“I do not have the funds for that. I had to get a lawyer so we have to figure it out,” Brooks replied. Mathie said her work hours would not make that possible and again asked for a refund. Brooks told her to dispute it through Venmo.

Brooks told Mathie to dispute her payment with Venmo.
Brooks told Mathie to dispute her payment with Venmo.(WSAW)

“You never sent the money back!!!! So why do I dispute it with (V)enmo,” Mathie exclaimed.

“U will get it back,” Brooks replied.


“You sent it through Venmo,” Brooks explained. “If you dispute it you will get it back.”

“U need to send it back,” Mathie exclaimed.

“It’s common sense,” Brooks said. “They will.”

She continued to explain that Venmo will take it from her account and send it to the person disputing the claim.

The two went back and forth for weeks, bickering with each other. They tried to set another appointment, but due to miscommunication and mismatched schedules, they did not settle on a date. In December, Mathie disputed the claim and sent her conversation with Brooks to Venmo. She received her $170 back through Venmo in January.

Mathie successfully disputed her over-payment transactions with Brooks through Venmo.
Mathie successfully disputed her over-payment transactions with Brooks through Venmo.(WSAW)

Brooks responds to Wilke

Following Wilke’s comment, Brooks messaged Wilke on Jan. 21 saying she had gotten her money back from Venmo and asked her not to comment. “I have proof you were reimbursed.”

Wilke responded that she had not been reimbursed from her or Venmo at the time.

“Two other women have messaged me that you did the same to them and they never got money back either. We’re reporting you to the police together now that we have more people with proof. Stop lying. You’re digging yourself a bigger hole,” Wilke messaged back.

Brooks asked her to post the screenshots proving her claim saying she had tons of proof to back up her own. Wilke sent screenshots of her transactions and disputes showing the claims were denied. Brooks sent her a picture of her account balance of -$795.

Brooks said her account was hacked and she was not getting answers from Venmo. She asked Wilke to open up her Facebook post to allow Brooks to make a comment; Wilke would not. Brooks again said she needed to dispute through Venmo.

“If you disputed for not getting services they pay you. That’s bull****. Do it again I’ll approve it - they told me on the phone you were reimbursed,” Brooks told her. “I never go that money I am NEGATIVE. It’s really not that hard to comprehend. It happened with a few others and they were reimbursed so maybe you didn’t do something right call them.”

Wilke did not respond.

The aftermath

Tuesday, the Everest Metro Police Department began investigating following complaints they received and asked people to report to 715-359-4202 if they believed they had been victimized. It had no update to provide Wednesday, including how many people had reached out.

7 Investigates reached out to Brooks who did not want to interview. She said she had been hacked; she was working with clients to have them dispute the transactions through the payment apps.

The same day, Brooks hid her business and personal Facebook pages.

The Better Business Bureau told 7 Investigates it had received a complaint Monday and forwarded it to the salon. It alleged the client paid $200 for hair products they did not receive back in June. Brooks has 30 days to respond.

The response will then be sent to the complainant if provided, or the BBB will notify the complainant that there was no response and the complaint will be considered closed. It is up to the consumer to notify the BBB if there is a rebuttal if the response is disputed. According to the BBB, complaints and any responses are part of BBB’s public file for public view for three years.

The BBB said it works with various law enforcement, state, and federal agencies by referring cases and sharing complaints when requested or necessary.


PayPal, which owns Venmo, recommends that people contact customer support if they are having issues or if they believe their claim should not have been denied. However, filing disputes is not the company’s recommended first course of action.

“In most cases, the easiest way to settle a dispute is for buyers and sellers to connect, figure out what happened, and work together to solve it. When this happens, usually no holds are placed on accounts, and customers are kept happy,” the company states on its website.

It also provides tips for sellers as to how to handle disputes and claims filed with the company.

“It’s best to respond to the dispute with your customer as soon as possible before it turns into a claim,” its website states. “In situations where the seller doesn’t respond quickly, customers typically escalate their dispute to a claim after about 4 days.”

For claims made through a customer’s bank or card company, the dispute is settled by that company, not PayPal/Venmo.

The company also offers purchasers and sellers protection for eligible purchases and sales.

For more help for PayPal or Venmo accounts, see the links below: