HOUSTON – He has a unique talent in the make-up artist industry, according to many of his fans, but dozens of women claim he ripped them off.
Social media influencer, “Bennibeauty” boasts about 150,000 fans on Instagram, but recently disconnected his account from public view.
The man behind the Instagram handle is 38-year-old Benjamin Sanchez, a Houstonian.
Sanchez has fallen out of favor with some of his fans after a pattern of offering classes, collecting money, and then failing to show up to teach the classes, according to his critics.
Sanchez vehemently denies the claim and has not been charged with a crime.
But a change.org petition signed by more than 2,500 people identifies Sanchez as repeatedly failing to deliver on promised make-up classes, after would-be participants paid for them, in some cases, hundreds of dollars.
The online petition urges online payment portals, such as “Cash App” and “Zelle” to refund customers who paid for classes and tutorials in advance, but never received them. These sorts of direct payment apps, rarely reimburse customers for problems encountered with a vendor.
“I didn’t realize how many other victims were out there. And then once I started getting into it, it wasn’t just like one or two girls that were saying that they were also scammed by him, it was like dozens and dozens of girls. I had over 70 something people reach out to me,” Leila Vonsleicter, a make-up artist in Las Vegas, said.
Vonsleicter, known as “Sincitymua” on Instagram and Youtube, has a large and loyal Instagram following.
She has used her platform several times, to bring attention to Sanchez’s alleged misdeeds.
Houston social media influencer, Rich Lux, aka “Richlux713,” has also highlighted the problems that people have come across in trying to take classes with Sanchez.
“I was getting messages from hundreds of girls telling me that they’ve been scammed out of hundreds of dollars for signing up for makeup classes. So, they’re paying this guy for teaching online makeup classes, makeup classes in person, and then he would cancel or not show up at all,” Rich Lux said.
Sanchez agreed to an interview with KPRC2 Investigates, over the phone, and then again by text. But later backed out of the meeting.
He wrote the following via text:
“Hello, how are you? I have given it some thought and going to have to decline the offer to meet you to discuss something I have no control over, the customer who reached out to you guys is more than welcome to complete her courses she has declined to take. I have been serving the Houston community for over 8 years and these unfortunate things happen when the client isn’t happy. It’s beyond my control, but what I can do is offer anyone who feels they have been stripped of my service to reach out via email and come take the courses I offer, I have online and also in person! Thanks for your time, I have attached my email @email@example.com please relay the message, much appreciated!”
A quick google search of “Bennibeauty” reveals a sampling of the problems that Sanchez’s customers have encountered.
Before doing business with any person or company, regardless of the entity’s perceived reputation, search for reviews of the person, product, or service on the internet.
Also, be leery of people who ask for a payment, especially payment in full, before a product or service is delivered.
Do not be lured by people or companies that promise a discount if you “act now”.
Finally, and importantly, it is next to impossible to get refunds from the apps used to complete the online transactions with Sanchez.
Consumers should think of “Zelle” and “Cash App” as paying in cash, rather than a credit card. Disputes with vendors rarely lead to reimbursement from these payment platforms.
Added 9/13: The FBI tells KPRC2 it is interested in hearing from alleged victims of “Bennibeauty”, File complaints here: https://www.ic3.gov/