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Attorney General's News Release

August 19, 2013

Attorney General Koster obtains felony convictions against two Columbia men for contracting scam -- court orders nearly $16,000 in restitution to consumers --

Jefferson City, Mo. –Attorney General Koster announced today that Kendale Lamont Williams and Joshua B. Whitlock each pleaded guilty to two counts of felony stealing by deceit and one additional count of felony merchandising practices in Boone County Circuit Court, in connection to their involvement in a contracting scam.

Doing business as Select Living Designs, the two took thousands of dollars to build barns and other structures for several Missouri consumers.  After cashing customers’ checks, Whitlock and Williams never returned to do the work.  In the case of one consumer, Whitlock and Williams hired a subcontractor to do some work in order to obtain an even larger down-payment from the consumer.  However, Whitlock and Williams never paid the subcontractor and wrote a bad check to a local company that furnished building materials.

At the time of his plea, Whitlock had begun to pay back some of the consumers.  Both defendants were placed on supervised probation for five years and ordered to pay back the approximately $16,000 in total remaining money owed to consumers they took payments from.

“In Missouri, thieves cannot disguise criminal acts as legitimate business activity and expect to get away with it,” said Koster.  “My office will continue to protect consumers against frauds like this.”

Assistant Attorneys General John Grantham and Cheryl Schuetze assisted Boone County Prosecutor Daniel K. Knight on the case.           

Missourians who feel they’ve been a victim of a contracting scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov to file a complaint.  Koster offers the following tips to avoid being the victim of a contracting scam:

  • Get multiple estimates on any home repair job before signing a contract.
  • Check the contractor’s references. When possible, visit other sites they’ve worked on to check out the quality of their work itself.
  • Check for complaints with the Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau.
  • Never pay the full amount up-front, or entirely in cash.
  • Make sure the contractor is insured and bonded.
  • Get everything in writing. Document the scope of the work to be done and the complete cost and time necessary to complete the job and how payment will be handled.


 
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