Facebook hairstylist scams edge out legitimate community stylists

It’s not unusual for hairstylists to ask for a deposit before doing a client’s hair, so Youngest Keaton thought nothing of it when she was asked for one to secure her spot with a stylist.

She sent the money. Soon after, she was blocked and scammed out of $85.

Keaton is just one of many women who have been scammed by people posing as hairstylists on fake accounts on Facebook. These accounts appear real, using pictures of their previous works to swindle people. Some of these fake profiles have pictures of what may be the individual or stolen pictures of an individual, with some even including family photos.

The accounts will respond when people post about needing a stylist, only to block the person when they have received as much money as possible. 

A 2021 Federal Trade Commission report said “reported losses to scams on social media … hit a staggering $2.7 billion, far higher than any other method of contact.”

Keaton said she was eager to get her hair done in box braids and made a post about looking for a stylist. The alleged scammer was one of nine people who responded to the post.

A request for a hairstylist posted on Facebook. Source: Champaign-Urbana Hair Facebook page 

It came down to two stylists, Dutchess Taylor and the fake stylist “Keisha Wade.” She ended up selecting the woman on the fake account. Keaton said one of the main reasons she booked with Wade was because she was more affordable.

“The only reason why I decided to forget Dutchess is because the other girl was cheaper,” Keaton said in an interview. “Dutchess wanted $150 for what I wanted, and the other girl wanted $100 with the hair [extensions]  included.”     

Keaton said the price was a steal for the hairstyle she wanted. Another reason she decided on Wade was because, from their exchanges, she seemed legitimate. Moreover, Keaton called her and she answered the phone.

“What made them seem legit and believable is … it was a lot of conversation,” she said. “It wasn’t just like two or three messages. There was slang in there and a lot of normal verbiage. You would expect a scammer to … sound very foreign.”

She sent the money using Cash App, a free-to-use money-sending service, and when the booking was done, Wade sent her an address to the Hair Lounge inside the Champaign Market Place mall. With this info, Keaton said she felt even more at ease because she was familiar with the establishment. 

However, when she arrived, she soon realized that no one was coming to braid her hair — no one by that name worked there — and she had been scammed. 

“After I got there the day of the appointment, which was the next day, they just kept trying to get me to send more and more money. Then I called it for what it was, and then I got blocked,” she said. 

Chris Slaby, public information officer for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), said hair braiders must be licensed before offering services, and checking if a person has a license can help people avoid a possible scam. 

“Anyone thinking of doing business with a professional licensed by IDFPR (including cosmetologists and hair braiders) should first check that they are licensed by using the Department’s license lookup tool,” he said.

After the incident, Keaton said she was distraught because most of the money she had set aside to get her hair done was gone. She returned to the Facebook group to warn others about the scam. 

Upon further investigation of the fake account, two images promoting Wade’s work appeared to be taken from other people and different websites. Wade, who claimed to be a Champaign stylist, posted a picture of her work that could be traced back to the Instagram page of a hairstylist based in Nigeria. The second image was traced back to a Zambian hair extension website. Furthermore, most of the likes on Wade’s pictures were from accounts based in Nigeria.

       Keaton warned others in the Facebook group about the fake account. Source: Champaign-Urbana Hair Facebook page  

Dutchess Taylor ended up braiding Keaton’s hair after learning she had been scammed. She stressed how scams like this affect real licensed hair braiders who use Facebook groups to find clients and make a living.

“On Facebook, the scammers have the attention,” Taylor said. “It’s hurtful. It takes away the business … Now I have to overdo it … I have to go down on my deposit. If they’re unsure, I have to call them and show my face, which I don’t mind, but I’m not used to it.” 

Furthermore, she said the prevalence of scammers has caused people to think she is one. Taylor recently moved to Champaign from Atlanta and noted that because there are more Black hair salons there, she rarely saw hair scams occurring. 

“They are very uncommon, not as common as they are here … In Atlanta, everybody does hair. Your mom does hair. Your aunty does hair,” she said.

She offered some advice for discerning who is real and fake for people who join Facebook groups in search of a hairstylist. 

“For me, what I look for to know if it’s a scammer is when their account was created. If it was created in 2023, a couple months ago, no,” she said. 

Taylor said if a person is being rushed to send a deposit, chances are they are being scammed. 

Currently, Wade’s account can no longer be found on Facebook.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has One Comment