Taxpayers on the hook for final pay for Forever Young employees

The local laser spa chain accused of defrauding customers says it will not pay the final paychecks owed to dozens of its employees after it shut down last week.

Former employees of Forever Young will get paid, but their money will come from the state and, in turn, from the taxpayer.

No one told employees like Brittiny Berry of Camas, Wash. that the company had shut down. She arrived to the Forever Young store she worked at and came in through the back door.

"I walk in, and I start looking in these rooms, and they're just empty. Like nothing," Berry told KATU News. "There's cords hanging out of the wall. I mean, papers all over the place. And I'm like, 'Hello? Hello?' - looking for someone in there. And nothing. Just empty. It was like a ghost town."

Stunned, Berry checked the Forever Young website for any clues. First, there was a single statement with no contact information. Then, the website disappeared along with her hopes for her final paycheck.

"It was like some conspiracy movie I felt like I was in," she said. "I was like, it's just crazy.'"

Then she remembered the call from her Forever Young manager one week earlier asking her to push her family to buy expensive spa deals for future services.

"She said, 'Oh, no, sales are just slow. I'm trying to see if any of your family wanted to get packages. We'll give them really good deals.' Like, call anyone you know, send them in, I'll give 'em a great package deal. ...

"For them to call me and say, we know we're screwing you over, but just get your family on, you know, it was just wrong," Berry said.

Than an email arrived from the same manager just four days before the store closed.

"It is vital that we all work together in terms of sales," the manager wrote.

The message said that there will be upset Forever Young clients that week, though it didn't explain why. And at end, Berry said, the message once again pushed her to sell, sell, sell.

"I think that they were just trying to get as much money last minute as they could," she said. "And I think they knew what they were doing. I mean, how could you not know what you're doing?"

Customers report buying packages not long before the spa shut down for services they would not receive. Some say Forever Young pulled money out of their accounts the day the doors closed.

"They wanted money, and they didn't care how they were going to get it," Berry said.

She is grateful that her family did not buy, but it hurts her that others were not so fortunate as managers tried to make the last week of sales a big one at Forever Young.

"That's what they were doing. They were stealing from people," Berry said.

The state of Oregon has a unique program to pay for employees' wages when their business suddenly closes. So Berry and others will be able to get the money they earned. But that money is taxpayer money from businesses paying employee taxes.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Forever Young said their managers did not know the store was closing and there was no push for sales.

Past stories on Forever Young and laser spas: