SHERIFF'S OFFICE ARRESTS MAN IN DRIVEWAY REPAIR SCAM
Durham, N.C. – The Durham County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man connected to multiple cases where elderly homeowners were scammed out of thousands of dollars for home improvement jobs that were never completed. The Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff's Office began their investigation in February of this year. During that time, it was discovered that a man using the name “Jack Tuttle” was seeking home improvement jobs door to door in Durham County. He would approach a homeowner unsolicited, and ask if they needed work done on their driveway. He quoted a price, or began work without the homeowner agreeing to a price and charge them after the fact. He would then leave the job incomplete, promising to come back. After cashing the homeowner’s checks he would not return. It was later determined that ‘Tuttle’ was actually 31 year old, Millard Fillmore Smith IV. Smith has been charged with 2 counts each of obtaining property by false pretense and exploitation of the elderly. Smith was booked into the Yadkin County Detention Center today on a $20,000 securedbond.
The Durham County Sheriff's Office believes there may be more people in the area who paid Millard Smith to work on their homes. If you have information on these crimes please contact Detective C Reimann on the Sheriff's Office tip line at 919-560-7151.
We would like to remind everyone to use caution when you hire someone to do work around your home. The North Carolina Department of Justice consumer division recommends following these tips if you plan to hire a contractor:
Shop around for a contractor. Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work done on their homes recently. Avoid contractors who knock on your door or leave flyers on your door or mailbox.
Get at least three written estimates for the work you want done.
Check out the contractor before you hire. Go online (or call) to check the license held by your Electrician (919-733-9042), Plumber/HVAC installer (919-875-3612) or General Contractor (919-571-4183.) You can also check the contractor's complaint history with your local Better Business Bureau or with NC Attorney General's office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM in North Carolina.
Get a written contract detailing all the work to be completed. Make sure it spells out the quality of materials to be used, the total price for labor and materials, any warranties or guarantees. It should also include the start and finish dates, and who will be responsible for clean-up and trash removal.
Ask to see the contractor’s insurance policy or bond and then contact the insurance company to verify coverage, especially for roofing, painting or tree removal services.
Don’t pay large fees in advance. If a small contractor claims to need a lot of money in advance for supplies and materials, it may be a sign that he has poor credit or is in bad financial shape. If you wish to do business with such a contractor, buy the supplies and materials yourself and pay for the labor once the project is finished.