ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – The state of Missouri has been handing out dozens of professional licenses to people who never should have had them in the first place.
And now experts warn that could have devastating consequences.
Two years ago, 70-year-old Linda went in for a pedicure in southern Missouri and left with a horrific infection, known as MRSA. News 4 concealed Linda’s last name, at her family’s request.
“We know they nicked her and we think it was unsanitary tools and she just couldn’t fight off the infection,” said Bobby, her son.
Linda had numerous surgeries, but nothing worked.
“Over a two-year period, it just slowly took her life,” Bobby said.
“I think it’s a real mistake for people to say, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’” said Leslie Roste.
Roste is an RN and expert of the dangers of cosmetology services.
She says when a person performing a cosmetology service isn’t properly trained the worst can and does happen. From infections to chemical burns, rashes and even ringworm. Each state has a duty, Roste says, to make sure everyone who does this work has a license and has been through all the right classes.
“I do think it’s the state’s responsibility when it comes to public safety,” she said.
That’s why some people News 4 spoke with were shocked to learn about what some say is a huge oversight in Jefferson City.
News 4 Investigates has discovered that officials handed out licenses to dozens and dozens of people who never should have had them in the first place. The workers forged documents saying they were licensed in other states so, some argue, Missouri rubber-stamped their applications. Only recently did officials really start checking, going directly to the other states to verify the person’s license. Some people working for years before the state figured out they never had legit licenses.
“I don’t see how things like this can fall through the cracks,” said Stephen Quick with the Grabber Beauty School.
Quick says an oversight like that hurts everyone.
“Here is somebody that waltzes up here and gets a license and they didn’t have to pay anything. It’s not fair. It’s not fair,” said Quick.
Cosmetology students are also frustrated.
“It kind of p’s you off, to see people getting away and not being licensed,” said Reina Allen.
News 4 wanted to talk to Missouri officials about how so many fake applications got processed. But multiple requests for an interview were declined. In a statement, officials say they couldn’t to talk to News 4, by law, because “this is an on-going investigation and continuing to evolve.”
The state inspects salons, they say, at least once a year for things like proper licenses. But News 4 wanted to know what you can do if you’re concerned that your technician isn’t trained.
“It is your right to ask questions. It is your right to get a good and safe service,” said Roste.
After a search of the state’s website for licenses, hers appeared to be in order. Still, all experts say if something doesn’t seem right simply say something or leave. Your own health could be on the line.
“It’s not a matter of somebody getting a bad paint job on their toes, it’s a matter of life and death.
The state says they’re still investigating, so we don’t know if this was some coordinated effort to forge the license applications. Officials say they’re doing things differently, now doing more to verify if the person is legit. Want to know if your tech has proper license?
According to the state: The Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners has on-line license lookup available on the Board’s website here. The information available on-line through the Board’s license lookup, which is current as of that day. All consumers should verify on-line that all operators and establishments have a current and active license with the Board. Further consumers should always check for the display of all licenses.