Police: Investigation into Meraki Salon complaints ongoing

7 Investigates
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 6:30 PM CST
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SCHOFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Everest Metropolitan Police Chief Clay Schulz told 7 Investigates that 44 people have made complaints against a hair salon in Schofield since January. The investigation is ongoing.

In January, customers of Meraki Salon posted complaints about the owner, Jennifer Brooks, on social media. They claimed that they paid for services or products that they did not receive.

Chief Schulz said the detective on the case has been interviewing complainants, Brooks, and obtaining and reviewing financial information on an individual complaint basis before the cases can be looked at as a whole.

“Elements of each crime that there are alleged have to be, you know, proven, or we have to find evidence to support those in each case,” Schulz explained. “And then when we get enough cases, those communications with the DA’s office -- if that happens -- they make the determination on how the charging would work.”

He continued that, if appropriate, the district attorney’s office could file charges related only to each individual case, or charges based on the collection of cases. Some of the elements of some of the cases, however, Schulz said could be more civil in nature. In those instances, complainants could sue Brooks civilly if they had not received their money back.

“That’s the big part of this case that we’re looking at is was there a verbal agreement? What type of agreement? What was promised? Was it delivered? Each of those have their (sic) own individual circumstances, and that’s why... we need to look at them individually.”

Since the investigation is ongoing and not all complaints have been fully reviewed, Schulz said complainants may want to wait until the department’s case is complete before taking any civil action.

“If you’re going to make payments through apps, just understand the risks that come with those, it sometimes can be difficult to get charges reversed or get that money back. I mean, the apps, are responsive, but they say we can’t really verify and determine whether or not this is legitimate or not,” the director of the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Michael Domke cautioned.

He said if you are going to use payment apps, to pay with a credit card rather than debit or directly from your checking account because credit card companies have more fraud protections built in.

44 individuals reported complaints of services or products paid for to Meraki Salon, but never received

Domke encouraged people that his office can be a resource for those who are facing situations like this.

“We’ll take into account all the different elements and then sometimes, you know, we’ll work collaboratively with another agency or will work in parallel,” Domke explained. “(The Department of Safety and Consumer Protection) may look at the licensing side of it. We will maybe look at how she was facilitating that, what she was representing. Another agency might look at the fraud, which potentially could be law enforcement.”

He said this scenario with the salon is a good example of how multiple agencies could handle various elements for a single complaint. He recommends that people reach out to DATCP, as the agency forwards the information to the other appropriate entities when investigating complaints.

Some people have said they have made complaints to DSPS. An assistant deputy secretary there stated earlier this month said they had received one complaint related to the salon in mid-January.

“When someone files a complaint there is a formal process within our department to assist the board in screening, investigation, and, where appropriate, license prosecution,” Jennifer Garrett explained. “Ultimately, the examining board is the decision-making authority.”

7 Investigates checked back with the Better Business Bureau, which has not received any new complaints since our last report. The director of investigations, Lisa Schiller, said Brooks has not responded to the single complaint they received in January. The complaint will close and be posted publicly next week unless they receive a response before then.

She said they received a report to their BBB Scam Tracker, with a complaint from a woman who said she paid $220 via Venmo but did not receive any services. Schiller said they urged her to file a formal complaint, which she has not done at this point.

They have not received any other reviews either, but there have been 65 inquiries about the business in the last 30 days.

“We encourage consumers to file a complaint. If we receive updated information we may put it in the company’s public report,” Schiller stated.

To file a complaint or write a review with the BBB, click here.