LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Kan. -- It was supposed to Mary Ellen Rich's last big splurge on her Leavenworth County home. Now all she has is regrets.
"I've been deceived. I've been trusting and I'm very disappointed in her," said Mrs. Rich.
Mrs. Rich, 79, is talking about the designer she hired to update the living room and dining room of the home she has shared with her 81-year-old husband for 40 years.
When Mrs. Rich first met the designer last March, all seemed well.
"We hit it off," she said. "I liked her."
She ordered and paid hefty deposits on drapes, rugs, chairs and a dining room set. She said she was told everything would be in place by early September. But then the designer kept pushing the date back. First to July, then August, then September.
"There was always some excuse why it didn't come," she recalled.
By December, Mrs. Rich said her husband became suspicious.
"He said, 'she's scamming us,'" Mrs. Rich said, although she still hoped he was wrong.
To be sure, Mrs. Rich called the seamstress whom the designer told her was sewing her curtains. She said the seamstress had no idea what Mrs. Rich was talking about. She said she hadn't spoken to the designer since last May and had never received the fabric.
Now even Mrs. Rich was worried. She had given the designer $14,000 in deposits. And after nine months of waiting, she hadn't received a single one of her custom items.
Plus, the designer is no longer returning her calls or emails and has blocked her on Facebook. Mrs. Rich filed a theft report with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department. But she doubts she'll ever see her money again.
"I just want other people to learn from my mistake and not to let it happen to them," Mrs. Rich said.
So who is the designer?
Her business card reads "Nichole Michelle Interior Design", and Mrs. Rich said the designer's last name is Kopp. Problem Solvers didn't find hardly anything in online searches for a Nichole Michelle Kopp. Then we discovered she was divorced from a man named Tribble. A search of Johnson County court records shows a Nichole Tribble is on felony probation for writing bad checks. Mrs. Rich confirmed that the mug shot of Nichole Tribble is the same woman she hired as a designer.
We tried to talk to Nichole Tribble Kopp at her Gardner home, but the man who answered the door slammed it in our face when we asked for her. But later Nichole sent us multiple emails telling us Mrs. Rich was over-reacting and that the majority of the missing pieces had been on back order and would arrive by the end of the month.
This assertion was odd, because in October the designer had told Mrs. Rich in an email that several of the items were already in her possession. When Problem Solvers asked Nichole about the contradiction, she admitted that there was a problem. She told us that she had multiple personal issues in her life and had been late in ordering Mrs. Rich's furniture -- although she wouldn't tell us how late.
The good news, is that after FOX 4 Problem Solvers got involved, Mrs. Rich furniture has started arrived. We've confirmed with the designer's wholesaler that eight more items will be here by the end of the month. We are hopeful this problem is on its way to being solved.