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View Full Version : My turn to vent! $&%(^# Customer


coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 10:56 AM
Yesterday when I got into the office I had a message from our bank. No big deal I thought.... I called them and it turns out that we were given a "washed" cashiers check that had been returned. I had never heard of this before so I had to ask what "washing" was. Washing is the process criminals use to remove the printed information on checks and then re-write them to whatever $$$ amount they want and use them to buy things or cash at the bank. OK... it turns out that this cashiers check had been washed. The original cashiers check was for $19.00 when issued by the bank. When we got it the check was made payable to us and was for $19,000.00.

The job that was done was a major renovation of a back yard. The guy said that he had dogs that had torn up the back yard. His ex-wife now had them and he wanted the backyard repairs. I gave him a quote and he signed the contract. 6 guys spent 3 days (53 labor hours) re-doing the backyard. All new plants, trees & shrubs with repairing a water feature.

The house itself was a $700K house and he drove a new Jag. His suits, cloths and the inside of the house fit with the way he presented himself. Very professional. Even his bank gave him a good reference when I called. They since took it in the rear $225K on a bogus loan to him.

So what happened you ask. This guy was using someone else's identity and was a renter. He has wall papered the town with bad checks, etc. Turns out that everyone from the Secret Service & FBI to the local cops are looking for him now. I was just told that I probably would not see any $$$... ever. I also can not go in and remove the plants, etc that we did because we did repair the damage he did but he did not own the property. They real owners will not let us in and said "we're sorry".

In a nutshell he used us to repair the backyard for the rental house so he could get his $10,000 deposit back. He got that on Wednesday and the real estate company that rented the house to him got his NSF check back the next day. He paid them with a "International Bank Check" which takes 30 to 45 days to clear. So they got screwed too. It wasn't until we got our forged cashiers check back that all the law enforcement found out about each other looking for this guy too.

It is frustrating when you try to do the right thing by people and then crap like this happens. Right before Christmas too. So I have vented. Time to move onto something more positive and productive today. Thanks for listening.

GreenMonster
12-10-2004, 11:00 AM
ouch. Sorry to hear about that. Did you recieve a deposit check from this guy to hopefully, at least cover the costs?

Mueller Landscape Inc
12-10-2004, 11:12 AM
Put a lien on the property.

txlawnking
12-10-2004, 11:49 AM
Put a lien on the property.

By all means, if you can. Man I'm sorry to hear this. May the Lord be with you and your family in this time.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 11:54 AM
ouch. Sorry to hear about that. Did you recieve a deposit check from this guy to hopefully, at least cover the costs?


We got a deposit but it was with a credit card. Oh yea, the identity this guy sole was the same person as that owns the house that he rented. This guy was slick to say the least. The credit card he used belonged to the person that had their identity stolen.... so it is being reversed..... another $7500.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 11:55 AM
Put a lien on the property.


Our attorney is in the process of a lien. However, because he did not own the property and was just renting it along with all of the other crap we don't know whether or not the Magistrate will sign off on it. I will know by the end of today.

tonygreek
12-10-2004, 11:56 AM
if you feel the inclination to play hardball, you might have some recourse through a lien, but run it by an attorney. i'm not sure if it could fall under some twist of a mechanic's lien where if a sub is not payed by a general, the sub can go after the homeowner. seems that for you to not at least recover what you installed, the homeowner's are being unreasonable given that you too were fleeced.

best of luck.

GreenMonster
12-10-2004, 12:05 PM
yeah, if the homeowner's aren't willing to work with you I wouldn't think twice about any legal measure to recoup costs, irregardless of how it affects them.

This touches on two items I'm considering for next year:

1. Different payment schedule. 50% up front, 25% draw 1/2 way through, 25% at completion.

2. No more personal checks, to avoid 2 day hold. Or, if paying by personal check, final payment is required 2 days before job is done.

promower
12-10-2004, 12:13 PM
If you dont get any money dont forget to write it off as a loss at tax time. I'm really sorry to hear that, makes other people stories about how they lost $300 on a job sound like peanuts. Hope you bounce back quick.

JustMowIt
12-10-2004, 12:16 PM
Put a lien on the property.

I agree... I would send a certified demand letter immediately advising your intention to file an affidavid to claim a lien against the property. It is not a lien, but a claim thereby clouding the title so the property can not be sold until you release that claim. In our State the statutory lease contract that Realtors are required by their licensing law to use, provide for a 30 day period of time before the security deposit is returned for the express purpose of taking care of any obligations that surface within the 30 days. If the Realtor returned the deposit; or advised their client to return it, the Realtor has failed his/her fiduciary duty to the client. The net affect of the lease authorizes the tenant to call providers to make repairs, so you should be able to lean on the property for your money.

The above is has been my experiences in my state of Texas as a result of being a Realtor & landlord for many years before becoming TJ's partner in the Lawn business. You should verify the laws of your state to see if they are similar.
MJ

rodfather
12-10-2004, 12:23 PM
Man, that is a horror story if I have ever heard one. Good luck in your recourse btw...

richard coffman
12-10-2004, 12:29 PM
Oh my Heck!!!!!

CoastalGreenscapes, Your company and family will be i our prayers........ :angel: I thought I've heard everything!!, but this is out of the blue!!!! I'm sure this guy will get what he deserves. Sounds like you did your homework. How far do we have to go now to protect our companys from instances like this. I personally have Idenity Theft coverage through pre paid legal. anyone else thought about getting something like this?? Like they say here in the west, "Get a Rop"!!!! :angry: :realmad: :angry:

respectfully,

Richard/Owner

richard coffman
12-10-2004, 12:33 PM
I agree... I would send a certified demand letter immediately advising your intention to file an affidavid to claim a lien against the property. It is not a lien, but a claim thereby clouding the title so the property can not be sold until you release that claim. In our State the statutory lease contract that Realtors are required by their licensing law to use, provide for a 30 day period of time before the security deposit is returned for the express purpose of taking care of any obligations that surface within the 30 days. If the Realtor returned the deposit; or advised their client to return it, the Realtor has failed his/her fiduciary duty to the client. The net affect of the lease authorizes the tenant to call providers to make repairs, so you should be able to lean on the property for your money.

The above is has been my experiences in my state of Texas as a result of being a Realtor & landlord for many years before becoming TJ's partner in the Lawn business. You should verify the laws of your state to see if they are similar.
MJ

I'll sure be checking to see if the state of Utah has laws like this one you just mentioned. thanks for the info.

Respectfully,

Richard/Owner

Lawn-Scapes
12-10-2004, 12:47 PM
Man.. what a story! Are you saying that your total lose is $26,500.00? Sorry to hear this but I'm curious......

Minus your labor.. we're talking $20K+ in material??? How can a couple of dogs do so much damage? What kind of damage was it?

out4now
12-10-2004, 12:50 PM
Ever see the movie Pacific Heights? Same type situation. It would be so costly to fight it in court though at a lawyer charging 300 an hour that it wouldn't probably be worth it. Man that is a bummer.

geogunn
12-10-2004, 12:52 PM
coastal--that is an incredible story! MAN! I actually got angry reading that.

GEO :angry:

coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 01:32 PM
Just got off the phone with the atty. Judge will not sign the lien. We are movng to file suit against the property owners, the real estate company and the jerk whom nobody can find. The angle the attorney is working is to get the homeowners/renters insurnance policy to pay off the debt either from the home owners or from the Real Estate firm. Since they rented the house to him and referred him to us the attorney thinks he has a good case to go after them. We are seeking $26,500.00 plus fees and collection costs. We'll see what happens. What a time to have this occur.... right before Christmas.

As a footnote, the actual homeowner who identity this guy was using has found over $500K in accounts he did not know about. Credit cards, vehicle, all sorts of stuff.

How do people live and sleep that do things like this?

GreenMonster
12-10-2004, 01:35 PM
How do people live and sleep that do things like this?

Not only does he sleep at night, he's probably laughing about it too :angry: :angry: :angry:

I really hope this works out for you, Coastal.

FrankenScagMachines
12-10-2004, 02:46 PM
That is sickening. Sorry to hear about that. Reminds me of how lately we have had a lot of automobile wrecks (refuse to call them accidents, you'll see why) and the cause was illegal immigrants (yes illegal i'm not accusing them of that without proof but they are most definitely illegal) from south of the border that live here (we have a ton of that for some reason) and they go out and drive cars without being legal, without a license or ID not even fake ones, sometimes other peoples cars (friends of theirs i guess) sometimes don't even have insurance on them. They think its ok to just go out and drive a car without any government body knowin about it or having insurance. And they don't know English and can't read any of it either, so they don't know to stop at a stop sign!!!!!! its so sick its really maddening. It is happening a lot too. The other night, a drunk mexican woman T-boned a minivan with 7 people in it (they all went to the hospital) because she did not stop at a stop sign and was going too fast (possibly attributed to her state of intoxication, which i should mention was over twice our legal limit of BAC). She was not a legal immigrant and had no license or insurance that i am aware of. The vehicle she was driving may have been someone elses and they had insurance i'm not sure. Another wreck within the last couple weeks this mexican was in a car uninsured unlicensed and was in a wreck, he just ran from the wreck, so we don't even know who it was.... This sort of thing is happening almost every day here now and it is getting out of control. i have moderate tolerance for immigrants who have a hard time and if they are legal but these ones who cause so much trouble without even being legal, thats just way wrong. And here's the kicker- the authorities don't even bother to do anything about it. If that isn't one of the most outrageous things you've ever heard of i don't know what is....
sorry to get off topic, but in a way its similar to your situation- if the government can't/won't do anything about it, it MAY be time to take matters into your own hands :angry: If an illegal immigrant is ever in a wreck with me and were in the wrong in that situation, and are uninsured and especially if they try to run, i am hereby claiming no responsibility for any temporary loss of insanity should i take matters into my own hands :dizzy:

Our town is all about tolerance and diversity with immigrants, gays, etc. and that CAN be a good thing to a certain extent, but it has gone way too far. Almost every respectable young lady i know of (say under 35 or whatever) fears going to Wal Mart in the evenings (say after 8 or so) because theres so many mexicans in there that look at the young women and they know they're being "looked at". Thats just wrong to me. If i was an immigrant in someone elses country i would be legal and i would kiss rear anytime given the opportunity. I would be extremely grateful for anything i got and i would work hard to earn my citizenship. I wouldn't be going about it this way....

I will say that there are some of them that are good legal citizens that are good people, hard workers and safe on the roads and that respect women but they sure don't outnumber the others here....

Coastal, hope its ok for me to throw this in here, just thought I'd rant and vent with you here. Hope things work out for you. I can't say how mad i'd be if someone pulled something like that with me.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 09:21 PM
OK, here's an update. We filed suit and have executed a "warrant of attachment" on the house pending the settlement of the suit. It was served tonight on two of the parties.

It turns out this guy has ripped off the area for about $1.4 million over the last 6 months. So far law enforcement has tied this guy to Raleigh, NC; Wilmington, DE; Jacksonville, FL and Denver, CO. He seems to move around a lot. All these cities have other people that have been scammed by him. He has been doing this for 5 years and nobody has gotten close to him. His MO is always the same too.

Anyway we will see how things develop. I was told not to expect any $$$ back from him. Maybe we'll get something from the lawsuit.

Creative Lawn Care
12-10-2004, 10:22 PM
Very sorry to hear about your huge loss. That exact thing could happen to anyone of us. I am not that far from you (3 hours) so it really hit home with me.
That being said, please tell me how 6 guys could do a $26,500 job in three days? You said it was 53 labor hours...if you bill your guys out at 100 an hour thats only 5300, which leaves 20,000 for expenses. Not doubting you at all, just interested in how I can make this much money too.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-10-2004, 11:58 PM
Very sorry to hear about your huge loss. That exact thing could happen to anyone of us. I am not that far from you (3 hours) so it really hit home with me.
That being said, please tell me how 6 guys could do a $26,500 job in three days? You said it was 53 labor hours...if you bill your guys out at 100 an hour thats only 5300, which leaves 20,000 for expenses. Not doubting you at all, just interested in how I can make this much money too.

Sod, plants, pavers, pre-built gazibo (to replace the one the dogs ate), trees and a water feature. We have a Bobcat A300 and that has cut our man-hour labor by 30%. We roll sod out now.

leeslawncare
12-11-2004, 12:15 AM
Sorry to hear about that s%&#. that sux!Don't know how you are but i would be tempted to get a PI find his A*^ an get some of my "good ol boys" to kick his A$# till his medical bill reached what he owed me!! It sux gettin stiffed! Good luck fella.

nelbuts
12-11-2004, 12:17 AM
Sorry about your loss. However, I do not believe you will be able to get legal recourse. You see you did work without the approval of the property owner or designated representative. A renter is neither. Therefore, the real owner more than likely has every right to request that you put the enitre back yard as it was before. I know it is stupid. But I am sure we can all agree we have some dumb laws around here.

HOOLIE
12-11-2004, 12:33 AM
Sorry to hear about this one, to say that sucks doesn't begin to describe it. To think of all the guys that b**** about getting stiffed for a $30 cut...

Hopefully someday this lowlife will get whats coming to him. Seems kinda weird that he would pay for a 5-figure landscape job with a bad check, knowing that he'd have to get lost quick and not be around to enjoy your work. I guess he figured no one at the bank would catch it for awhile.

JKOOPERS
12-11-2004, 02:23 AM
i always get 50 % down on anything over $500

MOW ED
12-11-2004, 07:32 AM
That really is a bad story. I wish you the best in recovering something. By the way, can you post the name of this joker so others may know who he is. Sort of like Americas Most Wanted Landscaper Edition. Good Luck.

arborist-28
12-11-2004, 07:49 AM
This is the customer we all hope never comes our way...sorry to hear you lost that amount of $ I hope you can recover quickly from your loss... a most difficult lesson ...Good luck in the future ...c

Harleyboy52
12-11-2004, 10:29 AM
That really is a bad story. I wish you the best in recovering something. By the way, can you post the name of this joker so others may know who he is. Sort of like Americas Most Wanted Landscaper Edition. Good Luck.

I think he would be posting the real home owners name. If the FBI is after him I think he will probably be caught although I don't think it will do you any good money wise. I don't see the home owners responcibility in this except to let you come in and remove the things that you installed. It sounds like that he is out over one half of a million. This sounds like a big enough fish to be put on America's Most Wanted. Good luck in the future.

coastallandscapesolutions
12-11-2004, 11:40 PM
FYI.... I just got a call from the State Law Enforcement Division. Turns out this guys real name is Soloman Mosorri. He is from New York City area. They believe he is headed to NY state or NJ. Wish I have a picture to share with you all. They got his finger prints from the house he rented. Hopefully they will get him.

lawnman_scott
12-12-2004, 12:44 AM
FYI.... I just got a call from the State Law Enforcement Division. Turns out this guys real name is Soloman Mosorri. He is from New York City area. They believe he is headed to NY state or NJ. Wish I have a picture to share with you all. They got his finger prints from the house he rented. Hopefully they will get him.
Go figure a NY'er trying to rip someone off..............

Creative Lawn Care
12-12-2004, 07:30 AM
So he might be headed to NJ......Hope he doesnt hire Bobby to do any work for him......Then again, Bobby might just be exactly what this guy needs!!!

Envy Lawn Service
12-12-2004, 08:09 AM
Sorry about your loss. However, I do not believe you will be able to get legal recourse. You see you did work without the approval of the property owner or designated representative. A renter is neither. Therefore, the real owner more than likely has every right to request that you put the enitre back yard as it was before. I know it is stupid. But I am sure we can all agree we have some dumb laws around here.

I'm also sorry. But at the same time I also have to agree with the above statement. This is why I require pre-payment and do a background check on all properties I visit prior to delivering a quote or doing any work. I've dug up several 'renters' this way and jumped through the hoops to get things cleared.

However, with identity theft, and/or cashier's checks I could have still gotten caught holding the bag on this one. But the point is, do all you can out there to protect yourself.

Unfortunately, I am also personally learning first hand about identity theft as well. :realmad:
About all you can do is listen to people tell you "I'm sorry _________ ." :realmad:

brentsawyer
12-12-2004, 09:45 AM
I now do a property search on all properties through the county records to make sure everything is ok. I'll admit it though, never thought to check if the actual owner is who you think.

saktate
12-12-2004, 11:42 AM
With 30 years in law enforcement and the last 20 with the Secret Service, I've seen this scam and many others and the creativity behind these scams forever expanding. Computers, scanners, inkjet printers, and desktop publishing software allow even unsophisticated criminals to duplicate high quality counterfeit checks and currency. Often criminals will bleach all printing from a genuine $5 federal reserve note and reprint the features of a $100 note on this blank stock. This produces a counterfeit note that contains the colorfast red and blue security threads, a watermark, and the appropriate linen/cotton paper produced to safeguard our currency. The common "detection pens" in use by many retail stores will fail to ID this $100 note as false. Even with poor quality paper stock, enterprising counterfeiters will treat their paper with spray starch and other coatings to fool the detection devices.

Counterfeit and other types of bogus checks are more attractive to criminals than counterfeit currency because they are not limited by the $100 denomination. Be careful when you accept a large check from a first time customer. Even your banker might conclude the check account has adequate funds to cover the amount only to find the account number (string of numbers on edge of check) does not belong to the account holder. For example, criminals will print checks drawn on a fabricated account, for example the ABC Corporation (make up any name) but use the account number and routing numbers that belong to a legitimate business, say a local university. In an effort to keep from becoming a victim, you might have your banker electronically scrutinize this check before you deposit it. Your bank will get a reply from the university's bank that funds exist to cover the amount of the check. Obviously, once this check is processed (by your bank and finally the bank that handles the university account) it will be identified as fraud. The loss will be reversed - most often to you.

I sympathize with you, for your loss is large and certainly mitigates the hard work of your company and crew. No one is exempt from becoming a victim. My office is currently involved in an investigation involving two counterfeit checks. One made payable for more than $40 million and the other made payable for more than $50 million. Even large corporations get beat at this game.

The processing of all negotiables by our financial industry always identify the bogus transactions, but how many of your customers will allow you to deposit their payment prior to providing a product or service?