NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The subject of a story by News 4 Investigates is back in the spotlight tonight.
Vendors and customers say they paid money for a convention for fans of the walking dead. The convention never happened – and they say they never got a refund.
News 4’s Call 4 Action Problem Solver Caresse Jackman found out the man behind the business, got thousands from those Paycheck Protection Program loans.
“I know that a lot of businesses are struggling right now, given COVID--19..and I appreciate that. And there’s a lot of people are deserving. But, he’s not one of them," Nikki Erickson said.
Nikki Erickson is one of many vendors who wanted to attend Nashville’s Walker Stalker Convention, but when the event was postponed, Erickson says she never got back a refund.
“I don’t think you can really put a number on how much money he owes people,” Erickson said.
A lawsuit, filed this year by the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, claims Frazier owes $1.6 million to creditors alone not including vendors or customers. This week, the SBA released their Paycheck Protection Program loan data. The data shows James Frazier was approved for a PPP loan between $150,000 and $350,000, and has 17 employees working for him.
When News 4 investigated the company last year, we heard complaints from people who say they were told actors would be there, but they weren’t. Those actors even spoke out, encouraging people not to attend the conventions.
“I was very troubled. Because we know that this is an organization that has not upheld it’s commitment to its customers. I question the number of employees that he states that he has for this loan . Just based on the interactions that we’ve had with him,” Robyn Housholder, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee said.
The Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky told News 4 they received more than 150 complaints about the company in three years. We want to ask Frazier what he’s using for the money for.
Businesses must use the money or payroll or other employee-related benefits or mortgage payments.
He didn’t answer our several calls and emails Wednesday.
“We’re not even sure if he’s operating. Cause right now his website is down. The future events that have originally been promoted have been canceled. So I'm curious to know what’s that money going to be used for if in fact there’s no activity going on with the organization,” Householder said.
So how could this happen?
News 4 asked the SBA. They say a borrower has to disclose a criminal history, or a felony case of fraud. But, if a lawsuit is pending or if they don’t let a lender know, a borrower can slip through the cracks.
The SBA says if you would like to submit a complaint, you can report it to the SBA Office of the Inspector General here.