My turn to vent! $&%(^# Customer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by naturescaretaker, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 850

    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.
     
  2. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Posts: 2,702

    ouch. Sorry to hear about that. Did you recieve a deposit check from this guy to hopefully, at least cover the costs?
     
  3. Mueller Landscape Inc

    Mueller Landscape Inc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 489

    Put a lien on the property.
     
  4. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    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.
     
  5. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 850


    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.
     
  6. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 850


    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.
     
  7. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,405

    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.
     
  8. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Posts: 2,702

    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.
     
  9. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    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.
     
  10. JustMowIt

    JustMowIt LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 367

    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
     

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