AP NEWS

Bridal shop fraud complaints pile up as brides go without gowns

December 31, 2016

When she saw the dress for the first time, Sarah Richardson knew it was the perfect one for her Hawaii wedding in March. It was simple yet elegant, and it would “flow with the wind.”

“I didn’t intend to buy a dress that day, but the dress was so perfect that I purchased it on the spot,” she said by email.

The dress would be ready by December, she was told by staff at Cameo Bridal in Post Falls.

As of Friday, Richardson hasn’t heard a thing about her gown. And she’s not alone. She and other customers of the shop came forward this week alleging fraud.

The allegations come just days after the owner of Cameo Bridal, Misty Ceriello, 37, was arrested for failing to appear in court following check fraud charges from 2015. Ceriello was arrested and released Tuesday. She did not respond to calls Friday.

Celestial Selections, a bridal shop in Spokane, has reached out to the affected brides to help them get their dresses.

“What we are trying to do is work with each bride and find out where their gown is,” said Teresa Akers, owner of Celestial Selections.

As of Friday, Akers said she is working with about 20 women to help track down their missing dresses. Most of the women made a deposit on the gown, a deposit they paid to Cameo Bridal.

But the gowns haven’t shipped from the designers, and the designers say they haven’t received payment for the gowns from Cameo Bridal, Akers said.

“These ladies need answers,” she said.

Akers is advising those women to call the police.

Post Falls police Capt. Greg McLean said that since Ceriello posted bail, the department has received about eight more fraud complaints. The Coeur d’Alene Police Department also has received some complaints about Cameo Bridal, which moved from Coeur d’Alene to Post Falls in December.

Richardson is working with Celestial Selections to find her dress.

“I am trying to remain positive and see the good in this miserable situation,” she said by email. “It has been amazing to see the wedding community pulling together and turning a hopeless situation into something that can be salvaged.”

Ceriello was charged with fraud in regard to another wedding company she owns, Cameo Events. According to court documents, Ceriello forged checks exceeding $169,000 and made fraudulent credit card purchases exceeding $19,000 on a customer’s account.

Cameo Events is located in Coeur d’Alene and Denver, according to its website.