Columbia Contractor Under an Investigation
COLUMBIA - The Better Business Bureau warned residents Thursday of scamming contractors - out to grab your money, and abandon work.
Columbia contractor Joshua Whitlock is in the hot seat after the BBB released a warning - detailing him tricking people out of thousands of dollars. The BBB's complaints date back to May, and span three states - Missouri, Illinios, and Kansas. There are three complaints currently, but more are expected to surface in the coming days.
Thirty-year-old Whitlock was using different names when working with clients. That's when scam victim Mark Kuhn knew he was in trouble.
"The subcontractor came out the next day and said you know, 'Have you seen this guy Josh?' I said, 'You mean Rick.' And he said 'No, the guy you were talking to yesterday.' I said,'Yeah, his name is Rick Richards.' He said, 'No. His name is Josh Whitlock.' So as soon as he said that, then, you know we realized that something's not right here," Kuhn said.
Kuhn said Whitlock took his money with no intention to finish the job - a new home for him, his wife and 15-year-old son.
Kuhn said he hasn't heard from Whitlock since May.
Kuhn said Thursday he's talking to an attorney, in the hope of salvaging the $20,000 he spent - with nothing show for it.
The BBB warns consumers to use caution when working with Select Living Designs or Resort Barn, two companies Whitlock worked under.
The BBB wants to limit how many people succumb to financially cripling tricks by offering these tips:
1) Be cautious about hiring contractors through classified listings such as Craigslist. It is usually best to deal with a company in your area with a solid track record.
2) Don't be fooled by professional looking websites and online testimonials. Such testimonials are easily fabricated.
3) If you have any concerns about a contractor, ask to visit its offices or showroom to help assure yourself that it is a legitimate business.
4) Make payments as work progresses; do not make a large upfront payment.
5) Check BBB Business Reviews at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.