The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit announced a Delaware City-based contractor faces criminal charges for defrauding a 72-year-old New Castle County homeowner. James Small, 31, was arrested on one count of Home Improvement Fraud, but Department of Justice officials believe he may have more victims.
New Castle County Police received a complaint from a woman believing she was caught in a home improvement scheme. Throughout January 2016, the alleged victim paid Small over $17,000 for home improvements. Work performed included minor spackling and tearing up master bedroom flooring, but ultimately police and CPU believe Small stopped showing up at the work site and the work was never substantially completed.
The investigation revealed that Small, soliciting work by going door-to-door, convinced the victim to pay him $500 up-front. The victim subsequently provided him checks for $1000, $500, $1000, $12,500, and $2,500 over the course of January 2016. At one point, Small accompanied the alleged victim to her bank in order to make a large cash withdraw.
“Delawareans, especially our senior citizens, need to be alert to home improvement scams, and help avoid them by making sure that contractors are bonded and maintain any required licenses for mechanical work,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “It’s also important to follow up on references, talk to friends and neighbors about a contractor’s reputation, and never pay for work up front.”
Additional alleged victims have been identified by the Consumer Protection Unit, and the office urges other consumers, who between 2012 and the present, may have been victimized by Small or have information to share with authorities, to contact Special Investigator Robert Schreiber in the Consumer Protection Unit at (302) 577-5183.
If any consumer suspects they are a home improvement fraud victim, they should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-220-5424.Related Topics: Attorney General Matt Denn • Consumer Fraud • Consumer Protection Unit • Department of Justice • Home Improvement Fraud
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