Seniors allegedly lost $1M in 5 years
Three men charged in a home renovation scam allegedly bilked area seniors of close to $1 million over five years, according to city police.
Michael Alivisatos, 49, and Allan Preston, 35, both of Ottawa, and Chris Patterson, 27, of Gatineau, face numerous charges in connection with a scam in which three suspects reportedly used false names and aggressive sales tactics to convince seniors to pay inflated advanced fees for work that was not completed. The charges are related to incidents between November 2002 and November 2007.
According to Diane Iadeluca, President and CEO of the Ottawa Better Business Bureau, complaints were made to the bureau regarding several men that had operated under the business names Ambrose Construction, or Ottawa Construction and Renovation.
"They work under one name until the list of complaints start to pile up. Then they would disappear and wait for things to cool down before starting up again under another name," she said.
Iadeluca said the bureau investigated the complaints and tried to find a resolution, but many times telephone numbers listed for the businesses were out of service and the mailing address was incorrect.
Iadeluca said when reports of consumer scams come to light, it reinforces the need for ethical companies to support the work of the bureau in combating fraud.
Police recommend that people ask for proof of Provincial Accreditation, Contractor Insurance. They suggest consulting past customers or researching the company’s reputation in the community.
Police are advising people not to sign contracts under pressure. If you are told it is a limited time offer and you need to sign right away, consider dealing with someone else.
Reputable companies know that pressure tactics and shady business practices destroy their business, police said.