Where has the money gone?Published 12:01am Sunday, June 23, 2013
A dozen Ironton residents, and possibly many more, say they have been left with some big holes in their bank accounts to match the holes in their roofs and siding caused by damaging storms that swept through the area in 2012.
Spanning neighborhoods, the ages of the residents and a range of work, the common thread is they all hired a company called All Seasons of Kentucky to fix their homes.
Now, months later, homeowners wondering where their money has gone are finding phone numbers associated with the company are disconnected. They are also finding out that other communities have also been allegedly left high and dry by All Seasons.
Carrie McWhorter is one of those people.
McWhorter’s North Third Street home suffered hail damage last spring, as did many of her neighbors’ houses.
All Seasons seemed to come to the rescue for those around McWhorter, so she asked the company to take a look at her damage in October.
“They were going to do a roof, gutters and a downspout and paint the house. Some windows were going to be replaced,” McWhorter said.
The woman’s son, who lives next door, also hired the company to replace the siding on his home. Each signed a contract listing the work that was to be performed.
Between the two of them, the McWhorters handed over about $15,000 in insurance money to All Seasons.
That was in December 2012.
The company didn’t show up until March.
“They came in March and did the roof,” McWhorter said. “And they took some siding off my son’s house. … They took some of his siding off and we thought, ‘they are going to get ready to start his siding.’ And they never came.”
To make matters worse, the new roof on McWhorter’s home is leaking, causing even more damage to the interior of the house.
The woman says she continued to call the company and heard excuse after excuse, and that they would return soon.
“Finally they quit answering or anything,” McWhorter said. “They wouldn’t answer or return calls, nothing. And they all disappeared. You would see them working all over town and then all at once, everyone was gone.”
Bad business or a scam?
Other who hired All Seasons of Kentucky tell similar stories.
Martha Akers, 77, of Chestnut Street, also hired All Seasons to replace her roof, handing over a check from her insurance company for more than $3,700 in January. The company had done work for a neighbor, a job that looked well done, she said.
After the money was out of her hand, Akers said she never saw All Seasons again.
“I waited and waited and they never showed up,” Akers said. “I called them and they said it (the roof) was on its way. It never got here. And I still don’t have my roof fixed.”
Now, local law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office are trying to determine what charges, if any, can be filed against the company and its owners.
Ironton Police Detective Joe Ross said before this week, the department had taken about 11 reports, totaling about $98,000 in lost money, from homeowners claiming All Seasons of Kentucky had agreed to perform work on their damaged homes, taken their money, and never returned to do the jobs.
Since word has gotten out about the company’s alleged business practices, Ross said the reports began flooding in.
“I’ve even had people from Portsmouth and Boyd County, Ky., call me because they just want some kind of guidance on which way to go on this,” Ross said. “I know there are numerous people who still need to contact the police department that have been taken by this company. The money had been taken but no work has been done.”
Ross said he has never seen a potential scam on this large a scale.
Akers said she was upset because the representative from All Seasons seemed very honest.
“I’m a little bit upset with them because they acted very honest,” Akers said. “With that amount of money and the amount of work I need done on my house, it’s beginning to get a little bit scary.”
To add insult to injury, Mike Burcham, of South Fourth Street, got a letter from ABC Supply Co., the company supplying materials for All Seasons, saying they were putting a lien on the man’s house because materials were not paid for.
“They sent me a letter three weeks ago,” Burcham said. “It said ‘We haven’t been paid for your shingles.’ And I called them and told them I paid for mine. And they said they hadn’t been paid by All Seasons. I said, ‘How can I control that?’”
A call to Jeff Garrow, media relations for ABC Supply Co., was not returned.
Work on Burcham’s home was completed, but his mother paid more than $5,000 for work Burcham said All Seasons never returned to do.
“They told me, ‘It will be in two weeks. It will be in two more weeks.’ They still haven’t come,” Burcham said. “I talked to the owner, that Patrick (Richard), this was about two weeks ago, and he did call me back and he said, ‘Well we’re trying to fix them. We’ve run out of this. We’ve run out of money.’ This and that. And I said, ‘Well you’ve got my money and my mom’s money, and I expect you to return her money to me.’ And they haven’t. He said they were going to do that within a few weeks.”
According to Burcham, as well as Akers, they were encouraged by All Seasons employees to refer other customers to the company, with a promise of $100 per referral.
Burcham said he did refer people, but never saw the finder’s fee he was promised.
Who is All Seasons?
According to records with the Kentucky Secretary of State, All Seasons of Kentucky filed for incorporation on Sept. 25, 2012, with an address of 2100 Daveys Run in Grayson, Ky.
A Grayson, Ky., phone number associated with the company, as well as a toll-free number, have been disconnected.
Associated with the company is a man named Patrick Richard, who several Ironton residents say they spoke with about performing work on their homes. According to the Better Business Bureau, Richard is the company’s general manager.
Calls to phone numbers associated with Richard were not returned. Nor was a message left on a Facebook page for the company.
Mike McDaniels, an Upper Township Trustees and Ironton real estate agent, said he spoke with Richard about fixing up six of his rental homes following the same damaging storms last spring.
“I was contacted by Patrick Richard and he said, ‘Hey would you be interested in doing this?’” McDaniels said. “I looked into some of the stuff he did. He had done three or four, maybe five, jobs previous to me and he looked to be a pretty reputable kind of contractor.
“He performed very well for me for about the first two, maybe three, houses. He got out there and got the job done and cleaned it up really good. After about that third job he started to drag his feet. So he had about $11,000 of mine in like two months and I’m yelling and screaming and moaning around about this guy. So he comes and does a little bit there and little bit here just to suffice me. And in the meantime he is picking up more checks, more clients and more business.”
McDaniels also found out Richard had gotten into some hot water in Missouri for allegedly leaving people with unfinished homes and no money.
In March, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against the company, there called All Seasons Contracting; its owner and president, Carol Richard; and its manager, Brandi Sampson.
The suit alleges the company took at least $37,000 as down payments from six homeowners in the spring of 2012, promising that work would begin within weeks. A year later, the company has refused to begin any of the work or provide refunds to their victims. The Missouri AG is still investigating the case and expects more victims could come forward.
Nanci Gonder, press secretary, said the Missouri AG has received 109 complaints to date.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a similar suit against the company and the Richardses in 2010.
A judgment was entered requiring the company to cancel all debts of the customers, pay restitution and request that any derogatory payment history resulting from the delay or failure to pay be deleted from the customers’ credit report.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office has not filed a suit against the company at this time, but as of Thursday, has received 12 complaints from Ironton residents, including the McWhorters and Akers.
More than 100 complaints have been made to the national Better Business Bureau organization.
Kate Hanson, public information officer for the Ohio AG, said each complaint will be reviewed, but per policy, she cannot confirm nor deny whether All Seasons of Kentucky is being investigated.
“Generally speaking, the attorney general’s consumer protection section has an informal dispute/resolution process and through that process the office helps to work with the consumer and the business to try to reach some sort of satisfactory solution, whether it be a refund or delivery of the services that were ordered,” Hanson said. “But not all complaints can be resolved at that level.”
As far as the job is concerned for Akers, the woman said she would just like her money back.
“They were very nice. It would have been nicer if they did the job,” she said. “I just want my money back. I don’t want them doing anything on my roof. I don’t want them up there anymore. I’d rather have the money back.”
Det. Ross is asking for anyone who paid All Seasons of Kentucky for work that has not be completed, or done so unsatisfactorily, to contact the IPD at (740) 532-5606.
McDaniels said he knew of some people who had gotten small refunds, but suspects the company is taking money from other customers to do so. The man also fears the company has moved on to the Midwest where people are picking up the pieces after recent tornadoes.
“This is like musical chairs,” McDaniels said. “When the music stops, someone is going to be left without a chair.”