COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Owners of haunted attractions around the world turn to a central Ohio business to give visitors a treat for Halloween, but some say they’ve been tricked by the owner of that business.
ScareFactory makes spooky props and animatronics that are used in attractions across the planet.
People who run those attractions spend all year planning for October.
“Building, designing and coming up with all sorts of stuff is a lot of fun,” said Riley Ji, who works at the Fear Factory haunted house in Salt Lake City, Utah. “It’s just a lot of fun to watch people come around and like look at all the things I’ve built and just say, ‘Oh, man! This is so cool!'”
In addition to his part-time job at Fear Factory, he is building a haunt outside his home as he looks to break into the niche industry. In February, Ji traveled to St. Louis for a Halloween trade show, where he found the centerpiece for his neighborhood attraction: a 13-foot animatronic pumpkin creature sold by the Columbus-based ScareFactory.
“(ScareFactory) has the largest booth at the trade show,” Ji said. “It’s definitely the most impressive booth. On their website, it says they have their work, like, displayed in many theme parks, many haunted houses all over the world.”
Ji spent his savings — $4,700 plus shipping — on the pumpkin creature. He said he was told he’d receive his order in April.
It wasn’t until summer that Ji was told his order was ready to ship, so he made his final payment.
“Days go by, weeks go by, I try contacting (ScareFactory), many calls. There’s no response,” Ji said in mid-September. “It took a lot to save up for this and to plan around it… It’s kind of disappointing to not hear back after spending all that time working to get it.”
ScareFactory owner David Fachman did not respond to messages from NBC4 over the phone or by email.
During an unscheduled visit to ScareFactory on the east side of Columbus, Fachman declined an on-camera interview but told NBC4 that Ji should have received his order.
Ji received his order four days after that visit.
Ji is not the only ScareFactory customer who said they were ghosted by the company and its owner.
“Pretty much everyone in my network has a horror story – no pun intended – about their dealings with ScareFactory,” said Aidan Finnegan, a co-owner of the New York-based Dark World Entertainment, which operates a large haunted attraction on Long Island.
Finnegan drove hours to Columbus to confront Fachman about an order he hadn’t received. He said after his calls and emails went unanswered for weeks, he received his order within three hours of showing up at ScareFactory.
“It’s unfortunate that, you know, I had to go through that to get my order, but I’m actually lucky that I got my order,” Finnegan said. “As you can imagine, after some of the people you’ve talked to– just horror stories — people placing orders for truckloads of gigantic monsters and just never seeing it.”
Since 2017, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received five complaints about ScareFactory for undelivered products totaling more than $75,000. The claims came from New York, Texas and Poland. Public records show two of the complaints were resolved, and that ScareFactory never responded to two others.
Court documents also reveal a track record of failure to deliver; judges have ruled against ScareFactory in multiple lawsuits by companies that didn’t receive their orders, workers who were underpaid, suppliers who were not paid at all, and the government.
Rulings from 2012 show Fachman was delinquent on more than $65,000 in local taxes and $13,000 in state taxes. In 2021, Fachman pleaded guilty for failing to pay more than $540,000 dollars in federal taxes.
In the federal case, Fachman was sentenced to 16 months of home confinement but received special permission from a judge in 2022 to attend the St. Louis trade show.
When asked about a multitude of complaints about his business, Fachman denied wrongdoing and said all orders placed with ScareFactory are delivered.