Immigrants victimized after being given forged cosmetology licen - KMOV.com

Immigrants victimized after being given forged cosmetology licenses

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Summer is the time for pools, vacation and for many women, that also means pedicure season. (Credit: KMOV) Summer is the time for pools, vacation and for many women, that also means pedicure season. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Summer is the time for pools, vacation and for many women that also means pedicure season.

But before you hit the nail salon, you might want to ask if the person working on you is properly trained.

Investigative Reporter Lauren Trager has been uncovering an alarming trend of bogus cosmetology licenses in Missouri, leading to what some say is a serious safety issue.

Without proper training, educators say, the person working on you can cause serious injury or illness.

One woman, for example, contracted a staph infection from a pedicure in a Missouri town and eventually passed away from it.

Her son has spoken out, wanting others to know the danger of untrained workers.

“It’s not a matter of somebody getting a bad paint job on their toes, it's a matter of life and death,” said Bobby, Linda’s son. He did not want to identify their last names.

Back in May, News 4 Investigates discovered that officials had been handing out licenses to dozens and dozens of people who never should have had them in the first place.  

The workers forged documents saying they were licensed in other states, so Missouri rubber-stamped their applications.

Only more recently did officials really start checking more closely.

But since our story first aired, we've heard from licensees, who say they're the victims.

“They took advantage of us,” said Xuan Le.

Xuan Le and his wife are Vietnamese immigrants.

Wanting a good life, he says he was very interested in an opportunity presented by local businessmen affiliated with Guava Nails in University City.

Le says they represented themselves as agents of the state.

Le told News 4 they paid $16,000, their life savings. They got licenses but it turned out the documents were fake.

“I told him if I knew that, I never would have gone to you, but you never tell me anything,” Le said

Le says he didn't know that there were hours of schooling required for a license.

He says he's devastated, feeling victimized by a member of his own community.

“I trusted him,” Le said.  

His attorney, Philip Dennis, says the Le’s are far from the only ones.

"I think they are all victims, especially when they spend a lot of money and bust their butts to open a shop they can't open," said Dennis.

He's suing Guava Nail Supply and its owners.

News 4 went to the nail shop to get answers and caught up with one of the defendants in the suit.

He said that he couldn’t comment on the ongoing suit, though he acknowledged, it's a wide scale problem.

“We are a point of contact, other than that, we don't help them, we show them where to, but we aren't the ones that do it,” said the store owner and defendant in the suit.

His attorney told News 4 they can't comment further.

Le says he lost more than money. He also lost the chance to ever have a legitimate career in cosmetology.

“The money that we lost is the savings money and now it's gone,” Le said.

The lawsuit is ongoing and so is the investigation with the state.

The Missouri Board of Cosmetology said that a law enforcement agency has now been informed of the questions surrounding these licenses.

If you want to see if the person working on you has a proper license, or to know more about who has lost their license in this investigation, click here.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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