Bartender accused of scamming local brides isn’t licensed to supply alcohol at private events

Last week, we told you about several brides who claim they were scammed by a woman they hired to bartend their weddings. Weeks later, they’re still waiting on refunds, and we’re hearing from yet another woman with a similar story.

As the brides we’ve spoken to tell us, PNW Weddings Cocktails With Kari owner Kari Kelley allegedly took hundreds and thousands of dollars from women in Washington and Oregon and either didn’t show up on the big day or never issued a requested refund.

Kari told us that a hacked bank account and hospital stays are the reasons why she was unable to attend the weddings she was paid to serve. It’s the hack and hospital stays that she said are also the reason she claims she is unable to issue her refunds.

Since our stories aired last week, our newsroom has received more emails from people who claim they’ve been scammed by Kari.

“Everything seemed good, everything seemed solid, and I had no reason to be concerned until the day of the party,” said Lara Raggon, an Oregon woman hired Kari Kelley for her October 21 anniversary party.

Raggon told us that on the day of her event, she was checking her email for last minute RSVPs. About two hours before the event, she received an email from Kari letting her know that the bartender she hired for the event would not be coming due to an accident but said a full refund would be issued.

“Days go by and I continue reaching out -- ‘Hey, do you know when you’re going to give me that refund?” said Raggon. “I had to pay somebody else to do the party so now I’m out twice the amount of money,’ no response.”

Raggon said about eight or nine days later she reached out to Kari one more time via Facebook messenger, saying she felt like she had been scammed. Kari replied, but still, no refund was issued.

We’ve also learned from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board that Kari Kelley does not have the proper license to supply or offer alcohol for private events. They say that if she’s supplied alcohol for any event, she has broken the law, and that clients should report any illegal alcohol service to them at this link.

We followed up with four of the brides we spoke to last week and learned that no one has received their refunds.

We then reached out to Kari to again hear her side of the story and get updates on promised refunds. Kari told us that she is working with her insurance to rectify these situations. We asked for proof to verify these claims but were told she could not provide the documents today.

Several of the women who are waiting for their refunds have already filed complaints with the Attorney General’s office or are pursuing legal action through small claims court.