A 53-year-old woman has been charged in the case
On Jan. 16, a 53-year-old woman in Queensland, Australia was charged with fraud after allegedly scamming brides by reselling their designer dresses online under the guise of a dry-cleaning business.
The six-month investigation came about after a bride from Cairns, Australia – who'd brought her custom-made dress to a bridal company for cleaning in September 2022 – noticed someone on social media wearing the same gown. Following this, the bride reported the incident to the police who opened an investigation in July 2023.
After launching the investigation, police told The Guardian that 69 other brides stepped forward with similar accounts from January 2019 to July 2023. Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Matt Hogan told the outlet that detectives had worked tirelessly with the 70 alleged victims and encouraged any others to come forward.
“There may be more victims yet to contact police,” he told the outlet. “If you have any information about suspected fraudulent businesses, please report it to Policelink.”
According to the Australian newspaper the Brisbane Times, the operation was codenamed Operation Victor Rickenbacker. Per a statement released by the Queensland Police, "Cairns detectives executed a search warrant at properties in Edmonton, Cairns North and Smithfield over the following months and allegedly seized electronic devices, documents and replica wedding gowns."
The statement also noted that the woman will appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on January 30.
“At this stage of the investigation we are alleging that in excess of $110,000 of detriment has been caused to the victims, complainants,” Owen Rodgers, another detective, told Brisbane Times.
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At the time a Maplewood Police statement said the victims reported they had purchased and paid for wedding dresses dating back to August 2022. They alleged they never got the gowns and claimed they stopped receiving any communication with the business, police said.
Following the investigation Nidelka Mayers, 53, of East Orange, N.J. was charged with five counts of theft by deception after customers of her Maplewood Bridal store contacted police about their missing gowns.
One of the Maplewood Bridal customers who never got her wedding dress was Deborah McNeese, who told local outlet ABC 7 at the time: "She's [Mayers] going to be held accountable."
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