News 2 I-Team: Local boutique owner faces charges and lawsuits across the Lowcountry

The owner of a popular boutique that was once open at the mall is now facing charges and lawsuits across the Lowcountry. Nicole Soriano used to own the store Looking for Local.  Citadel mall shut the store down amid an I-Team investigation in March.

Since the investigation first aired, the only agency to formally charge Nicole Soriano is the Hanahan Police Department.

In March, police responded to the home of a Hanahan couple who had been doing business with Soriano.  In video captured by a police officer body camera, the couple told police they’d invested in future Looking for Local stores.  They also had merchandise in the store that was open in West Ashley.

No additional stores ever opened and the West Ashely store has since been closed.

On May 3, Hanahan PD arrested Soriano for defrauding the couple out of $12,000.

Friday the News 2 I-Team learned the Charleston Police Department is looking for the former boutique owner.   A spokesman said detectives issued four warrants for her arrest.  The charge she faces is obtaining goods by false pretenses, according to a spokesman for the department.

“If she is stopped by any law enforcement officer in this country, and they do a warrants search on her the warrants will come up,” Charles Francis, CPD spokesman, explained.  “They will take her into to custody and notify CPD.”

Finding Soriano has been difficult.  Dorchester County Sheriff’s deputies are looking for her on an issue related to a driving under suspension charge.  Friday they reported she isn’t at her Summerville home.

The News 2 investigation started in March after five local business owners reached out to the I-Team for help.  They claimed they were out money they invested in future stores and products they gave Soriano to sell in her store at Citadel Mall.  Many showed checks Soriano wrote them for the products, but those checks bounced when the vendors tried to cash them.

Since our story aired, a lawsuit for breach of contract was filed in Berkeley County on March 21.

Another former store vendor filed a civil case in small claims court in Charleston.  A judge ruled Soriano should pay the victim $2,680.00.

Many of the alleged victims say they were convinced to invest from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars into a second store at Belle Hall.  In our initial investigation we found Soriano never actually secured that spot.

The many who claimed they were duped say they hope Soriano is stopped before she hurts others.

“I just want people to be aware,” alleged victim Allen Carpenter told the I-Team.

Soriano did not respond to a request for an interview.

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