Jobs Undone: Homeowners say central Virginia contractor took the money and ran

Virginia News

Summertime is a popular time for hiring someone to pave the driveway or do other home repairs. But beware, a local homeowner says she was duped out of thousands of dollars and left with a mess in her driveway. We’ve uncovered that she’s not the only left with a job undone.

“He just took the money and left,” Kim Robinson said. The Chesterfield homeowner hasn’t been able to park in her driveway in over a month. It’s an exposed mess of gravel and mud.

“This is an everyday reminder of just how disgusting it is,” she told our sister-station WRIC while looking at a dumpster. The ripped up pieces of her driveway have been sitting in the dumpster in front of Robinson’s home since early July. She says, “It’s been sitting here ever since.”

Robinson had been wanting to pave her driveway so when Custom Concrete by Wade knocked at her door and offered to do the work, she was ready. She knew the contractor Wade Crook, he put in her concrete steps years ago.

“He did a wonderful job,” she explained.

However, that should have been the first red flag says Barry N Moore, president and CEO of the Central Virginia Better Business Bureau or BBB. “The unsolicited knock on the door is a dead giveaway,” Moore said.

She got a contract, the responsibilities and payments all in writing. The total cost of the job per the contract was $5,500. The deposit to start the work was $3,000. Moore says that was red flag number two.

“If they ask for more than 10 percent down, that should be a warning sign,” he said.

Robinson told Crook she had an appointment with the bank Friday to get a loan for the work. “I said let’s start on Monday,” she told him. But come Friday morning, the day she was to head to the bank, she heard a noise outside.

“I looked out, he had already ripped up half my driveway going up. He knew that once he pulled it up, I would be locked in,” Robinson said.

Moore calls that red flag number three. “By tearing up the driveway in her absence, that fellow was guaranteeing that she have to do the job and finish it.”

Robinson says ever since she’s been asking where’s Wade? He hasn’t been back to pour the concrete. “I would have to call 10 times, 12 times. He pretty much gave me an excuse every week,” she said.

“When you see Wade, run the other way,” Milton Staples said. The Richmond homeowner says Crook approached him about building a carport but he eventually had to find someone else to finish the job.

“Every couple of weeks, he was asking for more money,” Staples said. They agreed on $10,000 for the work. However, Staples says after installing just five posts, Crook wanted more money.

“The man got another $6,000 out of me,” Staples explained. Soon like Robinson, Staples was left wondering if Crook was ever coming back. “He just didn’t show up to do nothing,” he said.

In all, we talked to four local residents who say Crook conned them out their cash, leaving them with a job undone. One of the four, Richmond resident Alfreda Greene, shared photos with us of her unfinished driveway.

We reached out to Crook. He agreed to meet and talk to us at a McDonald’s. Yet, we too were left asking where’s Wade? He stood us up.

We did eventually catch up with Wade Crook. He denied it was him but customers say it was him. Crook said, over the phone, that he needed Robinson to actually order the concrete herself to finish the job.

However, the contract clearly states “the balance is due on the date of the pour when the job is over.”

8News did some digging and found Crook isn’t licensed. Virginia law requires a license for any contracting work over $1,000. Moore offers this advice, “So if they don’t see the license and you don’t proof of insurance then you don’t let them on to your property.” Meantime, those four customers are still left wondering, where’s Wade?

The BBB says always research who is working on your home, get everything in writing and pay with credit. You can check to see if a contractor is licensed online here. If you have been a victim of what you believe is a contractor scam the BBB encourages you to report it.

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