Chanel “ripped off the same community she claimed to care about,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
Authorities in Pennsylvania are suing Instagram influencer Dana Chanel for allegedly using her social media platform to promote products and services that have scammed consumers, especially black small business owners.
Chanel, real name Casey Olivera, has over 796,000 Instagram followers and is based in Philadelphia. She is the founder of Bible earrings, a hair and skin care brand, as well as Sprinkle with jesus, a Christian mobile application that she describe as the world’s largest online ministry with 5 million users.
On her Instagram, she shares fun reels about running businesses, posts promoting her products, and content about her family.
“Dana Chanel has built an online customer base by promoting herself as a successful black woman-owned small business,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. Press release Thusday. âShe advertised the products of her companies as a way for other black small business owners to do what she did. Then she scammed the same community she claimed to care about. “
Chanel did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
The lawsuit involves Chanel’s other companies, Credit Exterminators (which has been renamed Earn Company), which helps consumers improve their credit, and Alakazam, which helps small business owners create their own mobile apps.
The two companies are co-owned and operated by Chanel and members of her family, according to the combination. His sister, Cassandra April Olivera, and his father, Nakia Rattray, are also on the list of accused.
According to the lawsuit, Pennsylvania regulators began investigating after receiving several complaints from customers that they had not received the goods and services they paid for or that the companies had misled them.
For example, several people reported to officials that Credit Exterminators / Earn Company announced a $ 300 per month “VIP Package” service plan to help people boost their credit scores, according to the lawsuit. The company reportedly promised an attractive ‘we do it for you’ approach, but then got clients to sign a form to let the company manage to provide the services promised in its marketing, such as phone support or a specialist. designated personal finance accounts. .
In one case, a consumer made a down payment of $ 1,807 to the credit rating company to help repair her credit, as well as get related counseling and coaching, according to the lawsuit. When she attempted to contact the company to set up these services, she received no response and her request for a full refund was reportedly denied.
The credit rating company also told consumers it has submitted disputes to credit reporting agencies, only to find out that those agencies have no record of the disputes, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that Chanel’s mobile apps company Alakazam billed customers for a “business marketing manual” they had no knowledge of or wanted to buy – and never received.
Alakazam was advertised to small business owners who wanted their own apps to promote their products and build community, and Chanel used Sprinkle of Jesus, which offers advice for Christian entrepreneurs in addition to its devotional content, to help market it. , depending on the costume. . She also used her Instagram to promote webinars run by Rattray or other company representatives, according to the lawsuit.
“Some consumers who paid Alakazam monthly hosting fees have never received a full mobile app from the company or have not received a mobile app that lacks the minimum level of functionality needed to give to the product any value for the consumer “, indicates the lawsuit.
In one case, a small business owner thought Alakazam would do the development work to build an app, except for small customizations. She paid $ 950 for app development, but her statement indicated the money had gone to a corporate marketing manual, according to the lawsuit. A monthly hosting fee of $ 250 was also reportedly billed before the app ended.
The attorney general’s office said Chanel violated Pennsylvania consumer protection law on five counts, including failure to deliver promised goods and services, deceiving consumers, violating consumer law. state credit services and failure to register a fictitious company name with the state.
“It’s hard enough these days for workers in Philadelphia,” Shapiro said in a statement. âWe can’t have bad actors breaking the law and making it even harder for people to solve their bad credit or keep their small businesses afloat. “