Tualatin woman loses nearly $30K after people pose as legitimate Portland contractor

Tualatin and Hillsboro police are investigating how so-called contractors may have ripped off customers using the directory website Angi, formerly Angie's List.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 7:56 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Patti Brown visited the directory website Angi, formerly known as Angie’s List, to find a reliable contractor to preform foundation work on her Tualatin home.

She was quickly contacted by a group of three men she described as having thick Irish accents and told her they represented Portland business “C&K Custom Remodeling.”

They said they’d need $6,000 in cash up front for materials.

“Red flags were going off,” Brown said.

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Lloyd Martindale, owner of C&K Custom Remodeling, has had a page on Angi for years to let customers know his business is credible. For just over two decades, he’s worked to build his reputation in the Portland metro area as a trustworthy business.

“Lots of repeat customers, you know, we’re a design build company,” Martindale said. “The more directories you’re on, the more authority your website has. So, we just have our stuff out on as many directories as possible, Angie’s list being one of those,” he said.

A week ago, that all changed when he started getting an influx of calls from concerned customers letting him know his Angi business page had been compromised and his contact information was changed.

“I got one at about eight o’clock, then the second called me around noon and the third one called me around two o’clock yesterday and I thought ‘oh my god, this is bad, bad, bad,’” he said.

Martindale quickly learned that customer contact information was being sent to someone else.

“I feel horrible and I’m worried more people are going to start calling me because Angie’s List told me they gave the contact information of over 80 people on their site to these scammers,” he said.

One of those customers was Brown.

After she paid the requested $6,000 for materials, she said they kept finding additional issues with her foundation, ultimately telling her they needed to buy a jack to lift her house - all for a hefty price.

“It turned out to fix the crack, the two cracks, it was going to be $14,000 and they needed to go buy more supplies so they got another $8,000 out of me,” she said. “Like I said they did do work but the big scam part was all of a sudden was my house, the driveway where it meets the house dropped two inches.”

In total, they made her pay $29,000 and some of that money was given to them in checks. She said they insisted the checks be made out to one of the so-called contractors individually rather than to the company. When she realized something was wrong, she called the bank to cancel those checks, but they had already cashed them.

“He was pushy. I mean, like I said, he was a big guy and here you’ve got two other guys in their 20s and they’re standing right there, and they followed me in the house and they wanted it in his name because he wanted to, well, avoid taxes,” she said.

They gave her a receipt with a doctored logo of a business called CK Outdoor Services and they listed an address we found to be a vacant building in Southeast Portland.

She hopes by sharing her experience, no one else has to go through this and that the men responsible might be caught.

“It’s embarrassing. I mean nobody wants to feel like they’re stupid and scammed, but it gets to the point if you don’t do anything, that’s when they win,” Brown said.

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However, she wasn’t the only one this happened to.

A Hillsboro man also says a group of three men with Irish accents showed up to do repair work on his home’s foundation and charged him $22,500. He was also given a receipt with fraudulent information.

Both Brown and the second victim in Hillsboro reported this to the Tualatin and Hillsboro police departments respectively, and officers are investigating.

FOX 12 reached out to Angi about this and they sent a statement that reads:

“Angi takes these claims very seriously and strictly prohibits this type of misuse of our platform. We are investigating this issue. While the investigation is active, this issue appears to be caused by a bad actor who was able to circumvent our robust validation processes. We were notified of the potential issue quickly and took swift action to correct. We are exploring all remedies and actively working to remedy the situation.”

A spokesperson went on to share some safe hiring tips:

“We recommend that homeowners prior to hiring any home service professional, read reviews, get multiple quotes, vet referrals and get a contract for the project which includes scope, pricing and other key details. We also recommend that homeowners check for insurance, any necessary licensure and business credentials. Lastly, we recommend that homeowners do not pay more than 20% of the total project value up front or as a deposit and keep receipts and documentation of any forms of payment.”

Regarding how customer contact information might have ended up in the possession of a potentially fraudulent business, the spokesperson also said, “When a homeowner comes to Angi looking for help with a project, we match them to available home service professionals. At this time a homeowner provides us and gives us permission to share information about the project, like timeline, scope of project and contact information with home service professionals matched to the homeowner for this job.”