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West Michigan mom claims she was ripped off after entering daughter in pageant

Posted at 8:25 PM, Aug 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-04 20:25:12-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- A mother from Grandville claims she signed her daughter up in a beauty pageant only to be ripped off.

Amani Osman bought a pink skirt and matching corset for her 6-year-old daughter, Amaya, who was planning on attending the South Elite Teen Pageant in Grand Rapids on July 19.

"She's been asking me to be in a pageant since she was 3 years old," Osman said.

To grant her daughter's wish, Osman said she came up with the $70 needed to enter the competition. Then, just one week before the scheduled event, the pageant was canceled.

"She had to cancel the pageant because only three people signed up and she had no one to help her," Osman said.

In emails exchanged between Osman and the pageant coordinator, Nikita Barnes, it shows Barnes agreed to refund Osman's money.

The email shows Osman could expect those funds to be placed back into her account in 10 business days. That email took place on July 15.

"She hasn't spoke to me," Osman said. "I obviously haven't got the money back and haven't talked to her...she won't answer...nothing."

That's when Osman reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers. We tried contacting Barnes but got no answer.

According to the pageant's website, there are several other competitions planned in different states. Most of them are booked in Atlanta, Ga., where it appears the business began.

"What are they doing? Are they out of their money also? Are they waiting for a pageant that's not happening?" Osman said.

FOX 17 did some digging into previous events listed on the website to find out whether those other competitions took place. Out of three,  only one ran as scheduled. However, the only event that's been canceled outside of Georgia was here in Grand Rapids.

The website listed a pageant would also be held on July 29 at the 444 Theater in Atlanta. But, a representative with the theater said Barnes never booked with them. However, a sponsor for South Elite Teen Pageant tells FOX 17 the event did take place but at a different venue.

"She is taking people's money and not telling them what's really going on," Osman said.

After the story aired on FOX 17, we received a phone call from Barnes. She said the pageant in Grand Rapids is being rescheduled for Oct. 18. She also said the contract to enter the beauty pageant states all fees are non-refundable, adding she made a special agreement with Osman to return her money.

Barnes said she was waiting for the bank to do a reverse payment and was told it should only take 10 days.