CHICAGO (CBS) — A South Side couple reached out to us for help, sending us pictures after they said they were scammed out of thousands of dollars – with only rubble to show for it.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov has been digging into the contractor’s past, and found even more customers with complaints.READ MORE: IDES Kept Offices Closed While Many Struggled To Get Their Unemployment Benefits: What Really Happened
“This wall had a substantial crack in it here,” said Gregory Earl, “so I wanted him to repair this portion of the wall.”
Repair work on Earl’s back stairs and drain area is finished now – but not by the contractor he initially paid a $2,400 deposit to do the job. After signing a contract with Douglas Bell’s company, Concrete Plus, out of Kansas.
Earl said Bell started the job, but left his back landing an alley in a mess. Earl even claimed Bell’s workers fly-dumped concrete from another job.
“I said wow,” Earl said, “I think I’ve ben bamboozled.”
Earl and his wife said once the June 7 contract deadline hit, they just wanted their deposit back. They claim they were met with resistance and even silence from Bell’s secretary.
Bell tells it differently.
Kozlov: “Did you scam them?”READ MORE: Coworkers Rally Around River North Bouncer Who Was Shot After He Refused To Let Man Into Clutch Bar
Bell: “I did not. Absolutely not.”
Bell, who is also a minister, said Earl ordered him to stay off his property after June 7 – which is why he never cleaned up the debris. And Bell said Earl stopped communicating with him about the refund, which Earl denies.
“I’m not denying that he’s owned the money back because we didn’t do the project,” Bell said. “But he stopped us from doing the project.”
But Bell has a spotty track record. In March, he was banned from working in Kansas for violating the Consumer Protection Act. In April, the Kansas State Attorney General reinstated some privileges – as long as Bell pays a $13,000 fine.
In April, a complaint against Bell was also filed with the Illinois Attorney General.
Kozlov also spoke with a suburban man who said Bell took more than $3,000 from him in May and still has not finished that job – or that of his neighbors.
Bell would not say when he will give the Earls a refund. They said they are preparing to file complaints.MORE NEWS: ATM Stolen From Convenient Store In Mayfair
“Of course, we are always watching CBS, and we’ve seen things that you’ve done in the past, and we were like, OK, we need to stop this from happening to someone else,” said Debra Earl.