Posted: Mar 26, 2013 5:03 PM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Mar 26, 2013 5:52 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - A man claiming to be a massage therapist has been selling gift cards for massages even though his license expired eight years ago.
The board that licenses massage therapists says they've responded to 17 complaints filed against him, but it looks like he may have found a loophole by working at a chiropractor's office.
We began our search for Stephen Johnson after four viewers told us they were scammed. Late last year he walked into their business selling the certificates.
"He came in and he said that he's a massage therapist and he's trying to get his name out, brought certificates," one of the ladies told us.
Veronica Aguirre and Stephanie Russell are among the group of woman at a local credit union that spent $350 on certificates. Only, they could never book a massage and he seemed to be always on the move.
"He's been in like 4 different locations since he's given us the certificates."
His current location is Corpus Christi Chiropractic & Wellness, Inc on Airline Road. When we stopped in today a representative at the desk told us he's a massage therapist at the location, but would not answer the question of whether he's a licensed massage therapist.
We did find several licenses and certificates posted on the wall , not one of them belong to Johnson, and in fact, when we searched Johnson's license with the board, we found it expired in 2005.
It turns out the licensing board has received 17 complaints about him. They've sent him cease and desist letters telling him to stop advertising as a licensed massage therapist.
Johnson is currently referring to himself as an RMT, or registered massage therapist, which is an older term used by the licensing board. The current terminology that should be used is licensed massage therapist.
The board also tells us they've notified law enforcement of the problem. It's a class c misdemeanor to present yourself as being licensed when you're not.
As for Stephanie and Veronica, they're done waiting on a massage from someone without a license, they just want their money back. So far, they've sent certified letters to Johnson and have recieved just one payment so far. "He said I'll bring you $100, but he only brought us $50."
The chiropractor at Corpus Christi Chiropractic & Wellness, Inc told us he thought his staff checked out Johnson's license when they hired him. They are allowed to hire him to give massages for the chiropractor's clients, but Johnson cannot give massages independently.
As of this afternoon, it is not clear if Johnson will still have a job.
When we caught up with Johnson he admitted that he should not have sold about 15 gift cards for massages because his license expired several years ago.
Since the 2005 expiration date, he telll us he's spent some time in prison and moved around a bit. Johnson told us, "I was just trying to make ends meet, just got out of jail just trying to get everything right."
Johnson also told us he's honored some of those gift certificates he's sold by performing massages at the chiropractor's office. That is not allowed considering once again that he does not have a license. Johnson said he's not even sure if the office knows he did that.
This afternoon he said he does intend to pay everyone back for the massages he did not perform.
"I can make payments to whoever else I need to make payments to. They have to be realistic though, I can't come up with $600 right now," Johnson said. "But you collected money from them," we asked. "Yes ma'am I did, but I"m just trying to make it right," he replied.
We'll check back to see if he does.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
Send us your feedback. We want to hear from you!
Look at photos and videos and share them!
|KRISTV.COM Mobile Website
Get KRISTV.com on your mobile or PDA!
|KRISTV.COM Mobile Apps
Get our mobile apps on your mobile or PDA!
See the latest winning numbers!
|6 News Team
Read about your favorite KRIS-TV personalities!
|FCC Online Public File
FCC Public File of Records, Reports, and more