San Francisco-based babysitting agency Wondersitter, LLC is being investigated for possible criminal activity, according to the city’s District Attorney’s Office. The company and its owner Rose Titcomb are accused of not paying babysitters for hours of work they’ve already done. Victims have reported unpaid wages from a dozen different cities nationwide including San Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore and New York.
Wondersitter pairs babysitters looking for work with families who need childcare. Parents pay into an account and the company handles payment to the babysitters, according to the business’s website.
Suzanne Holton is one of nearly 200 members of the private Facebook group “Sitters Unpaid by Wondersitter.” As a student at the time, she said the part-time job seemed to be a perfect fit.
“About two to three years ago they changed their payment system where families paid Wondersitter. Wondersitter would take a cut and send sitters the money,” said Holton.
Holton said her payments started coming in late consistently, and then they stopped coming in altogether.
“I learned it’s not just San Francisco. It’s not just me. There are dozens of people who haven’t been paid and it’s terrible,” she said.
According to a tally created by Wondersitter babysitters, at least 85 people from 12 cities have reported unpaid wages by Wondersitter. Sitters documented being owed anywhere from a few hundred to more than $4,000 each. The total amount of their tally currently tops $80,000.
Since 2 Investigates began looking into the issue a handful of babysitters have reported on the private Facebook group that they have received checks from Titcomb for small amounts owed, totaling a few hundred dollars.
Wondersitter operates out of San Francisco-Bay Area, according to its website, with services areas in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Fairfield County, Conn., Portland, Philadelphia, Denver, Nashville and Las Vegas. It also advertises that it is looking for more partners to expand around the country.
“I relied on [the money] for my student loans,” said Nicole Bergman, a sitter who lives in San Rafael. “I mean my students loans are a huge debt so it’s a really big deal.”
2 Investigates looked into Wondersitter’s business license and found its California Franchise Tax Board status has been suspended since 2014. Tax officials said that the agency was not filing its tax returns or paying taxes properly. State officials said that is also a red flag that a company may not be operating legitimately.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office told 2 Investigates they are actively investigating Wondersitter. However, they have not arrested anyone as of the date of this publication.
The DA’s office is asking potential victims in the San Francisco Bay Area to call them at 415-553-1030.
“I would also like to know why the State of California didn’t recognize a few red flags about this company. They aren’t even a legitimate company anymore,” said Bergman. “I feel like we could’ve been helped by the state if they had been on track with this kind of stuff.”
A spokesman for the California Franchise Tax Board told 2 Investigates they have a Criminal Investigations Bureau that looks into businesses after they receive reports of fraud from victims or the public. However, investigators do not pro-actively look into every business that has improper tax filings. Tax officials said it is up to potential employees and consumers to research businesses before getting involved.
You can check a business's FTB status here: https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/
For weeks, 2 Investigates tried to reach Wondersitter’s founder and owner Rose Titcomb. In front of her San Francisco home, she ran from KTVU cameras and questions. She said she had no comment on the issue.
KTVU 2 Investigates will stay on top of this active case for any developments and updates from the city or state.