A married couple has been arrested for theft after their Fort Worth-area roofing company took in more than $100,000 from homeowners without doing any work, prosecutors say.
Raul Garcia, 40, and his wife Melissa Garcia, 39, own R and M Construction and allegedly took money from more than 27 homeowners. The charge brought against them, a second-degree felony, can be punished with a sentence of between two and 20 years in prison.
Eddie Moore, 83, and his wife Syble, 84, say Raul came to their door after a bad hailstorm caused damage to their roof.
“He was real friendly,” Syble told the local NBC station Nov. 13. “He brought his little boy out with him.”
She says that she paid him $2,000 up front, but he then disappeared. “He vanished and didn’t come back,” she said. “I kept trying to call the office and they were always busy or with another customer or they were out.”
Best Practices for Homeowners
The saga, which has played out across both newspaper and TV news, has highlighted the vulnerabilities of homeowners regarding construction scams.
It’s particularly important to be wary in the late fall, when homeowners are rushing to complete projects before winter sets in, says Mechele Mills of the Better Business Bureau.
“This time of year, many popular home improvement services range from heating to roofing contractors, but it’s important to do your research on a business to avoid falling victim to a scam,” she wrote in the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “A roofing project requires a skilled and qualified contractor, so it’s important to thoroughly research roofing contractors.”
The Better Business Bureau rating for the Garcias’ business is an F, and the BBB’s website shows that the company failed to respond to 14 of the 17 customer complaints filed.
Mills recommends avoiding any contractors who go door-to-door soliciting business, and to never pay in full up front for a roofing job.
“The idea of a home owner figuring out if a contract is the real deal can be challenging,” says Richard Lundstrum, Owner, HomeMasters. “Some of the most deceiving people have spent more time and resource making themselves look professional and upstanding the actual working. The average contractor is too busy working and doing a great job for the customer to spend time and energy with fancy shirts and perfecting a speech that may sound like gold. First you should find out if there is an office you can go and visit employees. Then get at least three bids, compare the conversions you have with all three. If one is way low or way high, something is wrong.”