RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- More than a dozen customers are out hundreds of dollars after a Wake County tattoo artist took their money during the COVID-19 pandemic and left them with empty promises.
"He needs to be stopped," customer Matthew Alexander said.
"After we gave him that money it was like see-ya," customer Katelyn Falls said.
"He will take your money and not give you a product," customer Brandon Lilly said.
The product these customers are missing is a tattoo from Devin Foulkrod of Chronic Tattoos. Another of Foulkrod's customer's, Tasha Britt, said she gave him $200 and then he stopped responding to her attempts to contact him.
The customers all say they are familiar with Foulkrod after seeing his work posted on Foulkrod's Instagram page for Chronic Tattoos, plus the deals he offered during the COVID-19 lockdown on that Instagram page.
"He was running a special, it's like 50% off. If you give me $1,000 you get twenty hours of work for just ten hours," Alexander adds said.
All of the disgruntled customers of Foulkrod that turned to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson for help have proof of paying Foulkrod upfront via cash apps for the tattoo work.
Alexander paid Foulkrod $1,000 last summer and the two texted back and forth several times, with Alexander showing Foulkrod exactly the tattoo he wanted. While several appointments were set, Foulkrod texted several reasons for not being able to schedule the appointment for the tattoo.
"He said with the curfews going around I don't feel safe doing it," Alexander said. Another reason Alexander received was that Foulkrod's mother had passed away.
Besides a death in the family, there were other reasons for delaying appointments. Another one of Foulkrod's customer's, Deirdre, said she was told, "Because of COVID we are going to have to wait for things to open back up."
In some cases, Foulkrod did give customers, an address and exact time to do the tattoo but when they showed up--nobody was there and Foulkrod did not respond to texts.
"I said, 'What is your suite number?' He didn't respond. I said, 'Hello, I'm outside.' I waited thirty minutes, and he didn't respond. I had my son and his friend text him and he responded right away," the customer said.
Another frustrated customer is Stephanie Hafferty.
"He wouldn't respond to anything I sent him," she said.
Besides paying upfront for her tattoo work, she also says Foulkrod posted on social media that customers could get extra tattoo time if they bought an item from the baby registry for his son. She bought a high chair thinking it might help, but she said even that didn't inspire Foulkrod to do her tattoo.
Foulkrod did promise her a refund but she says, "I sent him all of my information from my Venmo, Cash App, everything and just somehow there was an error and it wasn't able to be sent, and he just never replied to me and blocked me."
The same story for another customer when it came to promised refunds from Foulkrod.
"He had said 10-30 days and the day I hit 30 days, he blocked on everything," Tasha Britt said.
"I never received a refund," Brandon Lilly agreed.
Some customers like Terrica Hamoud wouldn't just let it go. She wasn't willing to lose the $400.00 she paid Foulkrod, so she took him to court, and she got her money.
Others like Kira McLawhorn who paid Foulkrod for a tattoo but didn't get it aren't so lucky.
Foulkrod is a permitted tattoo artist in Wake County, as their records show he works at a shop on Bandford Way in Raleigh. However, Troubleshooter Diane Wilson did not find him there, instead, she was told he was evicted last November.
Foulkrod gave a recent customer an address on Louisburg Road. Wilson did not find him at that address either or any sign of a tattoo shop, instead, the address led to an empty field.
Wilson was eventually able to talk with Foulkrod and he said, "My number one priority is paying people back and getting this whole mess fixed. Everyone that feels that way they do is completely valid, I would feel the same way."
Foulkrod blames the start of his troubles on the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I had a good reputation, great customer clientele; I was booked out the entire year and everything went to crap."
During the COVID shut down, he couldn't work due to restrictions. He admits he offered deals like buying an hour for $100.00, get an hour free to keep customers.
"No one pays that much money upfront, but I was giving them a deal to do it, and they did do it," Foulkrod said.
When restrictions loosened and he could tattoo again, why didn't he show for the appointments made? One reason, he had a baby in December.
"Next thing you know I'm canceling my clients that had a lot of money down, and that's where I was very unprepared for that, and I started owing a lot of refunds," he said.
Foulkrod also admits some of the reasons he gave his customers for canceling appointments were not entirely true.
"A lot of these customers have been super harassful. Some of the excuses I made have not been entirely truthful," he said.
As for right now, when Wilson asked him if he was tattooing anyone right now he said, "No not currently, I'm on paternity leave pretty much. If you look at my page, it says books closed."
Wilson then asked, "But you had your baby in December, it's now May. You're still on paternity leave?"
Foulkrod then said he's not tattooing because his family all got COVID recently, and he's moving to a new Raleigh location and waiting on Wake County to permit him there. However, Wilson checked with Wake County about Foulkrod requesting a permit at a new location and a representative said, "There are no recent applications for tattoo permit from this artist. The last application received from this artist was in September 2020."
Wilson then pressed Foulkrod if he was still taking on jobs right now.
"I'm not working right now," Foulkrod answered. Wilson said, "But you're taking money from people?"
"I am booking, yes," he replied.
After Wilson got involved Foulkrod did start sending refunds to some of his customers like Tasha Britt. She said she did receive the $200.00 she was owed. As for the others still waiting? Foulkrod told Wilson, "Within 60 days everyone should expect their money back, and that's a guarantee."
The best advice is to be very leery of businesses that advertise online deals to get cash upfront. Try not to pay until the work is getting done.