North Bay health and wellness pros say they were scammed by FitFest event

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, May 24, 2024
North Bay health and wellness pros scammed by FitFest event
NorCal Fit Fest was a chance for small business owners to showcase their products and talents, but participants believe they were scammed.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, health and wellness professionals say they're feeling sick about a planned fitness festival this weekend in Santa Rosa, which they say wasn't legit. NorCal Fit Fest was a chance for small business owners to showcase their products and talents, but participants believe they were scammed. They say the promotor vanished with their money.

"It was like what? This is what's happening right now," said Cassandra Hampl.

Performance artist Cassandra Hampl describing the moment when she realized a big fitness expo planned in Santa Rosa likely wasn't real.

"Having the main producer fall off the communication bandwagon was really disheartening," Hampl said.

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NorCal Fit Fest was scheduled for May 25 at the Veteran's Memorial Building, billed as "a magical Saturday packed with fitness, dance and health adventures."

"People invested their time and money," said Tristan St. Germain.

Sonoma County health and wellness professionals like Tristan St. Germain were contacted through social media in January by a man named Jon, asking if they would participate and pay between $90 and $120 thru a PayPal account for a booth at the festival.

"He said he was a philanthropist, retired, he was helping his friend Emily and Jess - this was their event," said St.

Tristan said it seemed legitimate, there was an event website and posts on Instagram. but when it came time to meet Jon and secure the event space with a signed contract last month...

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"He no-showed, never met us, never signed the contract, never paid my friends for the work they put in," St. Germain added.

"When I spoke with him on the phone, he said he doesn't use credit cards, that he would bring crisp 100-dollar bills when he saw us," said Colleen Teitgen, aka DJ Dyops.

"That's when the lightbulb happened, this is a scam," Hampl added.

"We had red flags from the beginning," said Zack Darling.

This group says the worst part is, Jon added a dance party event after learning about Tristan's son Kainoa's diagnosis of MS. The $25 ticket sales would go towards his medical care. Tristen believes that too was a scam.

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"I feel bamboozled, it's hard for me to understand how people can be so mindless and heartless and cruel. I feel he played on my vulnerability at the worst time of my life," said St. Germain.

ABC7 News tried several times to reach Jon with voicemails, texts and messages - so far no response.

Police are now investigating. They confirm FitFest isn't happening.

"We encourage anyone who bought a ticket or booth with a credit card to give credit card company a call," said Santa Rosa police sergeant Patricia Seffens.

Vendors say they'll move on. They are hoping to alert others. Tristan offering the GoFundMe page for her son, which she says is definitely the real thing.

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