Businesses Say They've Been Defrauded

At least a half dozen businesses in Meridian say they have been scammed.

A sewing shop, sporting goods store, a boutique and a salon are among those who say they're trying to work their way out of mounting debt they say resulted from fraud.

After 33 years in business with three stores, Allison Slayton, who owns The Sewing and Vacuum Center says she has never been scammed like this, and she contends that she's not alone.

"Thousands of people have been scammed," said Allison Slayton, owner of The Sewing and Vacuum Center.

Slayton says she signed a contract around February 2012 with a company called Retriever of Jackson. She says she was first approached by a company representative from this area. Slayton says when she met the head of the company, he promised to save her thousands of dollars in credit card collection costs.

The owner of Voila! Salon makes the same claim.

"He was just like 'Oh my god!', I'm going to save you so much money," said Amber Pierce, owner of Voila! Salon.

But instead, Pierce and Slayton contend that the company has cost them a lot of money.

"These are some extra charges that are put on that are not in your contract," said Slayton. "These are recurring monthly charges."

Prior to signing on with the new company, Pierce says she was paying from $60 to $80 in credit card processing fees. However, once she signed on with the new company, Pierce says each of her stylists started receiving bills for this that exceeded $300 a month.

"Your fees override your credit card statements," Pierce said. "It's unreal."

Pierce and Slayton say many of the fees are coming from a company that apparently has a working relationship with Retriever of Jackson.

Slayton is now refusing to pay the $1,800 she's said to owe. In response she says company officials are now calling her requesting the money at least 7 times a day.

'Just to cancel it's like $595 per person.'

Since entering the agreement Slayton says she's learned that the company involved in the alleged scam has committed similar fraud in Texas and South Carolina.

"I've written the attorney general and Mississippi's Attorney General says they're (the company) under deep scrutiny," Slayton said. "They've had some problems."

Newscenter 11 attempted to contact the head of Retriever of Jackson. We had not received a response as of this posting.