EDMOND, Okla. - An Edmond business says a recent burglary is to blame for clients' personal information being posted online.
Essence Salon and Spa is accused of doxxing its clients after leaving the salon a negative review on Google. Doxxing is when a person or business searches for and publishes identifying information about an individual on the Internet, usually with malicious intent.
Essence Salon & Spa reached out to News 4 and released the following statement after our story aired:
"The 3 clients that came in and had their personal information exposed received either hair, nail, or waxing services . Hair and nail clients of our spa do not fill out intake forms, meaning we never had any information provided to us other than their phone number, and first/last name, meaning worst-case scenario we could not have posted anything beyond a name and phone number . While our Google Business account was compromised as a result of our spa and several others being burglarized three weeks ago, ultimately resulting in several unpleasant events, we can confidently say our database of over 155,000 clients was not compromised. After investigation, it is believed to be that the individual(s) whom acquired the iPad that was stolen from our spa was/were responsible for this nightmare. Since this discovery, our Google Business credentials have been updated and has been logged out of all previous devices."
News 4 spoke with at least five former clients of the salon after seeing their information exposed in response to reviews. Records show the salon was burglarized in December.
Some customers of Essence Salon and Spa of Edmond were stunned when they saw their names, addresses and phone numbers published underneath their negative reviews on Google.
"Someone stop this liar!" one post read, along with the customer's name, address and phone number. "DM us for where she works!!"
The posts were eventually deleted by the spa, as was the company's Facebook page. However, some customers captured screenshots before the posts were deleted.
Ashley Crane is one of the former customers. She visited the salon once to get her eyebrows done but was thoroughly displeased with the service.
"I decided this was a terrible experience so I left a review, which I hardly ever do," she said.
Soon after, she said the salon offered her a free service, which she declined. Crane says after that, messages from the salon's profile took on a different tone.
"They have been nasty to me and tried to tell me to take my post down."
Crane says she then received a text from a stranger, informing her that her full name, address, and phone number were now listed under her review. Posted by Essence Salon's profile, the response also calls her a liar.
"It was pretty ridiculous and it was honestly scary," she said.
Crane, and others, went to police, but doxxing isn't illegal as long as the target is over 18.
"As you've seen by those posts, bad (and good) information spreads around the internet like wildfire and it can never be taken down or taken back," said Patrick Allmond, social media expert.
However, Allmond pointed out that you can't always believe what you see in online forums.
Allmond says in cases like this, you might consider that the company's page was hacked or a former employee is trying to hurt the business.
We also heard from Jason Brown, who runs ReviewFraud.org; he says many of the favorable reviews left for the business were likely purchased from a review seller service or purchased through a higher digital marketing company. he sent us the following statement:
"I volunteer on the GMB forum and say the thread asking for the replies with personal information to be removed. I started looking at all the reviews and when I clicked on the profiles, I noticed this business had thirty suspicious positive reviews that needed to be removed. One of the review replies mentioned that people like to post negative reviews. I also run Reviewfaud.org where I highlight businesses with fake or suspicious looking reviews to help protect consumers"
Brown said he reported the questionable reviews.
It also appears that Essence Salon and Spa changed their name on Google to Ehereal Salon and edited their responses to customers, but not before they were captured by consumers. It appears the salon's name was changed yet again to Sola Salons and Suites, although there is an existing Sola Salon Studios half a mile away.