OTTAWA – A woman from Russell, Ontario. alleges that she and other homeowners lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after she said a local contractor took their money for work that was never completed or, in some cases, had never even started.
“He made our lives so difficult,” said Allison Brookes. “We put everything in a savings account to renovate this place and it just left.”
Brookes bought the property knowing that major renovations – hundreds of thousands of dollars – were needed, and hired a contractor she found online.
“I called his references, I looked him up on the Better Business Bureau, I couldn’t find anything that raised suspicion,” she said.
The contractor started the work and found subcontractors for the roof and windows, she said, with crews showing up regularly between October and December 2020. After Christmas, the work stopped.
“Any work that he personally started or that his team started was never finished and it was just excuse after excuse as to why he couldn’t show up.”
Brookes says her house was left in a mess: stairs the wrong way, no kitchen ceiling or upstairs shower and missing pieces of her floors, among other major issues.
The worst part, she admits, was the amount of money she handed over.
“He received almost $ 170,000, about $ 168,000 based on all wire transfers and deposits and the like.”
Brookes said they agreed to a 50% down payment.
“I would pay him every week and as soon as he stopped showing up, of course I would stop paying him, but by then he would be here for a day or two, but he would expect a week. full salary and he was really good at making me feel guilty, ”she said.
Brookes later learned that she was looking for the wrong name during her initial research.
“I hired him as ‘Ken Perkins’ but he’s actually Cory Cahill and I hired Cedar Renovations, well he has three or four other company names,” she said. .
Ottawa Police said Cahill advertised his work under several business names, including Cedar Renovations, Cory HT&T, Epic Wood Finishing and Platinum Cabinets.
After initially being charged with fraud over $ 5,000 and making threats in August, several people, including Brookes, brought allegations to police. Cahill now faces 65 counts, including fraud, forgery and mischief.
Sara Bernard alleges that she too is a victim and says that she gave Cahill over $ 1,800 as a deposit.
“He said ‘listen, I’ll be there that day for sure.’ That day came up, he didn’t show up. I’m like ‘listen where are you?’ He texted to be back in a few hours. And I say ‘no’ and then he m ‘a ghost. ”
Several other owners reached out to CTV News Ottawa saying they had also lost thousands of dollars, but were too scared to appear on camera. Some subcontractors also claim that they have not been paid.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Cahill’s attorney, Jeffrey Langevin, wrote: “Mr. Cahill intends to resolve any outstanding disputes with his former clients or to have the issues decided in Small Claims Court. Mr. Cahill denies any criminal responsibility.
The Better Business Bureau has added warnings to some of the profiles that have received complaints.
“When we see that there is a model complaint, we will post it on the website,” said Jessie St-Cyr, media relations officer at the Better Business Bureau.
When considering having any work done by anyone, St-Cyr said the Better Business Bureau suggests paying no more than a third of the total amount as a deposit.
“Type the name of the business on the internet, but also write ‘scam’ next to it and see what happens,” she said. “Check if they have a profile on bbb.org, ask for photo ID. It might sound a bit intense, but with all the scams we see around home improvement, it’s a good thing to do to see the name and photo. ”
Brookes said her story is an uplifting tale.
“It was the worst mistake we have ever made. It practically bankrupted us,” she said. “I did everything I thought I had to do.”
She said she was hopeful, but didn’t plan to see her money again.
“I don’t think I’ll ever see the money again,” she said. “I mean it would be great if I did, but I’m definitely not counting on that.”
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