A lot of small businesses earn the bulk of their money over the holiday season.
Many of them count on customers at vendor and craft fairs that take place at various locations from October through December.
A group of area vendors say a woman with a long history of stealing money, has cheated them out of hundreds of dollars each, after failing to make good on her promise to hold a big holiday market at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
Angela Kennecke has discovered the Iowa woman has a trail of complaints all across the country and tracks her down in tonight’s Eye on KELOLAND Investigation.
“We’re small businesses. To pay anywhere from $80 to $600 for us, that’s a lot of money out of our pockets, our profits,” Lisa Kuhns of meadow Sweet Boutique said.
“I want my money back–$225 now!” Gena Damgaard of Designs by Us said.
“She took money from people. She booked this event in promise of doing things and she took all our money and now she won’t give it back,” Carrie Thompson of LulaRoe said.
This group of women all work for multi-level marketing companies and sell various products, ranging from jewelry to clothing to food and gifts.
They were all targeted by this same woman, Teri Hardy Hatland who owns an Iowa business called Street Repeats who promised them she was holding a Sioux Falls Holiday Market at the Convention Center Nov. 18-20. They signed up, because Hardy Hatland had already held a show in July.
“I actually participated in the July event at the convention center and had a fairly successful weekend there. I didn’t even give it a second thought to book for a three day event close the Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same center,” Char Raley of Tastefully Simple said.
“They had their own website; they have a physical address for their business. Looking at that, it would have been fine,” Kimberly Albers of Lula Roe said.
But officials at the Convention Center say Hardy Hatland never finishing paying for the July event.
“Shortly after the July show, she stopped communicating with us,” Stu Webber of the SF Convention Center said.
And she didn’t put down a deposit for the November show she’d booked.
“The first part of November, we took the event off our website; we took it off our Facebook page. At that point, it was considered cancelled by us,” Webber said.
When the vendors found out, they attempted to get their money back.
“She said, ‘no refunds, sorry’; a few weeks later, ‘we’re filing Chapter 7, sorry. And we have no money to refund anybody, so you’re out of luck,'” Damgaard said.
“I was one of the only ones I think to get a check back. They sent me a check, because I called them out on double booking. They booked at least three other people with my company which in direct sales is a huge no, no,” Thompson said.
The only problem with that refund check?
“It bounced,” Thompson said.
A Madison, Wisconsin TV station reported that Hardy-Hatland pulled the same thing as she did in Sioux Falls last month, cancelling a Holiday Market and refusing to give refunds.
KELOLAND News has also learned the same thing happened with a Street Repeats vendor event in Kansas City.
“It’s not just here in South Dakota. It’s multiple states, it’s multiple events, she has to be stopped, one way or another,” Damgaard said.
KELOLAND Investigates dug into Hardy Hatland’ history. Bloggers have posted scam alerts online after they were taken by Teri Hardy Hatland in fake business ventures and conferences that were never held.
Hardy Hatland runs numerous website, from Mom Powered Media to Motherhood Defined, to Secret Southern Couture to Iowa Mom.
And it turns out Hardy Hatland has a rap sheet in Arkansas, where she is also known as Teri McDonald and Teri Crowley.
In 2000 she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and six years’ probation for stealing money from her employer and writing bad checks. While on probation she got in trouble again for writing more bad checks to businesses and running a check kiting scheme.
She owes at least $17,000 and never paid the money back, nor did she ever met the terms of her probation and left the state of Arkansas.
“It is fraud. It’s a scam. She’s been scamming people for years and getting away with it, so she’s going to keep doing it and changing her name and getting away with it,” Kuhns said.
We followed the registration for Street Repeats on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website, all the way to this address in Sioux City, where we found owner Teri Hardy Hatland.
AK: Are you Teri Hardy Hatland? Um, yeah,” Hardy Hatland said.
AK: I’d like to talk to you about the vendor show you had in Sioux Falls, had scheduled.
“Um, no comment,” Hardy Hatland said.
AK: Are you going to give them their money back?
“No comment, thank you,” Hardy Hatland said as she shut the door.
All of these vendors are now filing complaints with the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection.
TAKE ACTION: File a complaint with Office of Consumer Protection
AK: Is it criminal?
“Absolutely, because it’s fraudulent. She didn’t provide a service she charged us for,” Raley said.
Attorney General Marty Jackley said his office is looking into whether or not Hardy Hatland committed fraud in the state.
He said it may all depend on who signed Street Repeat contracts and when they did, which say “all fees are not refundable.”
“Then there’s another category of concern for potential victims, that there really wasn’t an event, or it’s already cancelled, and the company from Iowa is taking the fees. Of course that would be a straight up theft if that were happening,” Jackley said.
Whether Hardy Hatland broke the law in South Dakota or not, these vendors say they want her stopped.
“Google their names before signing up to do something with them. I learned a very valuable lesson,” Raley said.
“I hope that she is shut down and can’t do this to anyone else, in any other state–that she can’t just change her name and it happens again. She needs to be held accountable and make things right,” Albers said.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection is investigating 10 complaints about Street Repeats and Teri Hardy Hatland.
In addition to canceling vendor markets in Sioux Falls, Kansas City and Madison, Wisconsin, she also cancelled a show in Sioux City without refunding vendors.
Street Repeats as an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.