Salt Lake City tattoo shop warns of impersonator social media profiles and scams
Jul 27, 2023, 11:03 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City Tattoo shop is warning people about impersonator social media accounts after potential clients were swindled out of hundreds to thousands of dollars.
On Thursday afternoon, with a slight buzzing sound filling the air underneath upbeat music, Konrad Montefour concentrated on a client’s shoulder, creating a work of art out of ink at Big Deluxe Tattoo.
Before Konrad ever fires up the tattoo gun, he makes sure to meet his clients first.
“If they’re local, I make them come in so I can talk to them and just verify that everything’s good,” he said.
Meeting in person isn’t just for his sake, but also for the people he works on, especially after what’s been happening at Big Deluxe Tattoo lately.
“All of a sudden, we started getting a ton of people, clients that were messaging us and telling us, ‘Hey, there’s somebody impersonating you guys,'” explained Jacquelyn Dohoney, co-owner of Big Deluxe Tattoo.
The social media/marketing manager, Jackie, said recently several fake Facebook and Instagram accounts have been collecting tattoo deposits in the name of Big Deluxe artists.
She said duped customers have even been showing up to the shop thinking they had an appointment, only to find out the artist they supposedly booked with doesn’t exist.
“They’re just going after innocent people that may not know any better, and they’re just taking their money and running off,” Jackie said, of the scammers.
Richard Dohoney, Jacquelyn’s husband and co-owner of Big Deluxe Tattoo, explained how some scammers pretend to be an artist working at the studio. The scammers will even say they’re booked as a guest artist to make it more believable. Others will impersonate the business itself, using real photos from the shop.
“We defuncted one that had pulled a bunch of our pictures off of our Instagram, said they were us, put up a copycat Big Deluxe Instagram,” he said.
These accounts, the couple said, have taken anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars from people. One scam account made slight changes to the name to fool people.
“Perhaps they’re going, ‘Well, you can get a sleeve done for $2,000 if you do this now, this way,'” Rich explained of what the accounts will say to clients in messages. “And people go, ‘Oh, wow. That’s a great [deal].’ You know, they look at the person’s portfolio, which is always fictitious because it’s not their work.”
Jackie has tried to get the fake accounts shut down. She said she spent several days on the phone and contacting Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, and Venmo.
She successfully removed some of the Venmo and PayPal accounts, but so far, she’s had no luck on the social media accounts. Many of them are still active.
“We contacted Facebook countless times,” Jackie said. “At least 50 people reported the accounts, and Facebook refuses to remove them. They said that they are not violating their terms of service.”
Big Deluxe Tattoo now requires all artists in their studio to only take deposits in person.
And for any potential clients looking for a new piece, they urge people not to send deposits or payments electronically and to research a shop and artist before committing to an appointment.
“I would go to the studio. At the very least, I would call the studio, and ask to talk to the person,” Rich said.
He also said to independently look up the studio number on Google rather than what the person sends in a message, to verify that the number is real.
Thankfully, they say some of the scammed clients got their money back from Venmo and PayPal.
“I would just say if it’s too good to be true, oftentimes it is,” Rich said. “Just do your due diligence.”