CRETE, Ill. (CBS) — This story comes from CBS 2 viewers who want to save you from becoming victims like they did.
A suburban family is out more than $6,000 to supposed contractors. CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas uncovered some information you should know before you think of hiring a contractor.
If the walls at Donyiel and Terrance Crocker’s house could talk – or at least what’s left of them – they would tell you how the Crockers hired Urban Construction Group to do $2,800 worth of work to their house in Crete.
“They said they were a family owned business,” Donyiel Crocker said. “They seemed reputable.”
The Crockers found Urban on Yelp and on Thumbtack.com.
“The reviews were recent, but they were all good,” Donyiel Crocker said. “We had had some trouble finding a contractor.”
The Crockers agreed to pay $1,400 upfront, and Urban knocked down some of their walls. Then, Urban convinced the Crockers to give up $5,000 more for supposed plumbing work.
“They were taking advantage of our lack of knowledge,” Terrance Crocker said.
Then, the so-called contractors said they would need even more money, because the house was not up to code. So the family called up an inspector with the Village of Crete, and he said the house was fine.
“The building inspector came – he saw them,” Donyiel Crocker said. “As soon as that happened, they decided to go for lunch.”
“They never came back,” Terrance Crocker added.
The contractor said they would come back to finish the job last week, but never showed.
So the Crockers searched online for contractor scams in Chicago, and found the strikingly similar stories we reported about a group called Riverside Roofing and Masonry.
The Crockers said the contractor in our Riverside story known as Justin was one of the contractors at their house, but Urban Construction told them his name was Tony.
The family filed a police report and posted their discoveries in a one-star Yelp review for Urban. Then, another man claiming to be Jose with Urban called a few days ago.
“I am not threatening,” Jose said on the call.
“Well you’re saying if we don’t take down the post, that we won’t get our money back,” Donyiel Crocker said to Jose.
“Yes, exactly,” Jose said.
The Crockers said they will not remove the review until they get at least some of their money back – but Jose refused. So we called him up on Tuesday, and he said he had already paid them back.
“That’s not true,” Terrance Crocker said.
We called Jose again soon after the interview, and he changed the story again – saying he will pay them back soon. He said Urban Contractors had nothing to do with Riverside, and Justin and Tony are not the same person.
But the Crockers maintain that they are indeed the same person.
McNicholas: “You’re 100 percent sure that Justin in the same guy that was here?”
Terrance Crocker: “Absolutely. When I saw the picture I thought, yeah, that’s him.”
Donyiel Crocker: “200 percent.”
Then we asked Jose about Victoria Pebbles-Miller. In one of the contractor’s texts to the Crockers, they said that is whom their payments should go to.
McNicholas asked Jose if that is the same Victoria Peebles-Miller who was convicted years ago in connection with another scam.
Jose’s response was, “She’s served her time.”
Urban later changed their tune on that too, saying it is not the same woman.
“We expose ourselves to them, we expose our home, and you take that trust and you throw it in the dirt, and you rob us. And it does hurt,” Donyiel Crocker said. “But if somebody else can avoid this, then maybe it hurts a little less.”
We even found that Urban’s before-and-after photos were stolen from a legit contractor’s website. That was frustrating, but by now, not surprising to the Crockers.
Crete police told us they are investigating. So is Thumbtack, that contractor website where the Crockers found Urban Construction originally.
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