Bureau of Consumer Protection shares information after concerns over wedding photographer

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Dozens of women feel they were scammed by a wedding photographer that either did not show up, or did not deliver their pictures.

And many of those women are wondering what they can do to try and get their money back.

At least 26 women say they each paid photographer Erin Lundy thousands of dollars, but she did not deliver on what was promised for the most important day of their lives.

Rachel Straubhaar said, "We've already figured that we'll probably lose all of our money, just because she owes everyone else money."

For Rachel it was a $3,000 payment for a photographer that did not show up at her wedding.

Some paid a $1,000 retainer fee. And the most expensive wedding package on Erin Lundy's website costs $3900.

Women we spoke with this week all say they signed contracts with Lundy, but she did not fulfill her obligation.

Michael Domke is the director of the state's Bureau of Consumer Protection. He told us, "As far as relationships between consumers and businesses not getting what they thought, that's kind of our bread and butter."

Domke recommends people with a dispute over services file a complaint with the bureau so they can mediate and try to get some money back.

But the thought of initiating legal proceeding can be daunting for some.

Lexi Retz lost her $1,000 retainer. This week she said, "I'm only 23, almost 24 years old. So I don't have a lot of legal expertise."

But Domke says you should share as much information as possible: how you found the person, any communication, a signed contract, and the services expected. And of course, the financial impact.

Domke said, "Those details will help us have a clear understanding of what the expectations were."

The bureau will reach out to the business for their side, then mediate back and forth. Domke said, "In your situation, for instance, 'why didn't you show up to the wedding?' or 'where are the pictures? When should they expect them to arrive?' And we'll give them a chance to provide that side."

But in the eyes of many of the brides, there aren't two sides to the story: Lundy just didn't show up at some of the weddings.

Domke says civil action could then be pursued. "If you have a scenario where they took money and outright just never showed up, that starts to really get into the criminal side. We would encourage them to reach out to local law enforcement and file a complaint with them."

Some of the women acknowledge they may never get their money back since so many people have complaints, but they still want to do something that could help the next person.

Straubhaar said, "I just don't want any other bride to have to go through what I had to go through on the day of my wedding."

People can lodge a complaint against a business through the bureau of consumer protection.

But before you hire a business, you can also contact the bureau to see if anyone else has filed complaints against them.

More information can be found at the Bureau of Consumer Protection's website.

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