Organizers unexpectedly cancel tattoo conference, leaving dozens out thousands of dollars

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Dozens of tattoo artists from all over the country say they are out thousands of dollars after they bought tickets to an Indianapolis conference they say was unexpectedly canceled. Those artists tell CBS4 no refund is available, and they want to know where their money went.

“There are a lot of people pretty angry,” said tattoo artist Gerrit Verplank.

Verplank is a local tattoo artist and the owner of Firefly Tattoo in downtown Indianapolis. He is now one of the dozens reportedly scammed out of thousands of dollars after they spent their hard-earned cash to attend “The Impact Project” tattoo conference in the Circle City.

“We paid $975.00 apiece. As a shop we almost paid $4,000,” said Verplank.

According to the Impact Project website, the four-day conference was supposed to be held at the downtown Hilton in September, so artists could collaborate and learn how to best run a successful business.

“Everything looked real and legit,” said Verplank.

But, that all changed last night when a mass email was sent out alerting all participants that “the event and all future events are canceled indefinitely due to unforeseen tragic matters and extreme circumstances.” The Impact Project adds “the funds for the ticket sales have been used for the forward progression of the conference” and says they cannot refund any tickets.

“I do not know where the money went but apparently not to the show,” said Verplank.

We reached out to Melissa Ferranto, the organizer who sent the email but the receptionist at her tattoo parlor said she was not available.

Now, tattoo artists like Verplank want to spread the word about the rip off before it happens again.

“Let us know what happened. If it is legit we would understand but it does not seem like it is going to be,” said Verplank.

The Attorney General’s office says they do not have any open consumer complaints against Ferranto, her business in North Carolina, or the Impact Project, but several people say they are in the process of filing claims and a lawsuit.

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