Okla. Repairmen Hammered with Five Counts of Fraud

April 14, 2004

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said charges his office filed against a home repairman should serve as a warning to consumers to be on the lookout for home repair scams that often go along with Oklahoma’s unpredictable spring weather.

“Every year at this time, we hear of people who suffer weather-related property damage only to be duped by unscrupulous repairmen,” Edmondson said. “Again this year, we are urging people to have a plan for preventing fraud.”

Edmondson said one such scheme currently under investigation involves an Oklahoma City man who was charged with four felony counts and one misdemeanor count of home repair fraud in violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act.

Scott Robert Ducharme, Sr., 45, was charged in Oklahoma County District Court after the Attorney General’s Office received five complaints from consumers who said they had paid Ducharme for repairs he did not complete.

Ducharme, who was serving as the president and general manager for Southwest Roofing, allegedly received a total of almost $15,000 from five separate consumers and then never performed the repairs or did not complete the repairs adequately.

“Any time a repairman demands a down payment, you should be wary,” Edmondson said. “At the very least, you should check with the Better Business Bureau or the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit to see if there have been complaints on the person before you hand over your money. A small down payment may be necessary, but never pay a significant amount of money up front.”

Edmondson also urged consumers to always require a written agreement that spells out the fees and work requirements before any repair work begins. The contract should also include a date when the work will be complete.

“There is simply no substitute for a written agreement,” Edmondson said. “If all you get is a verbal agreement and the deal goes bad, it’s much tougher to prove damages. With a detailed contract, there should be no room to debate what you should’ve received for your money.”

Ducharme was charged after an investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit. Investigators have made numerous attempts to bring Ducharme into custody but had been unable to locate him.

A lawsuit has also been filed in Oklahoma County District Court by Southwestern Roofing Inc. to stop Ducharme from operating under the name Southwest Roofing, and from using deceptive tactics to make consumers believe they are dealing with Southwestern Roofing.

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