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Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.

 
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:54 PM   #1
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Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


So, I played a stupid game and won a stupid prize. This is quite long so apologize. I was referred a job by a real estate agent (mistake 1 and broke my own rule) to fix a cracked pipe. When I get there turns out the seller let the house go through an Alaskan winter with no prep, almost all pipes need replaced, water heater, traps, find issues in crawl space, total ends up at about $6,000. Seller side has 3 individuals, daughter who owns house, Dad who answers technical questions/decisions and is the only one in state, and mom who’s providing the credit card. I get a deposit and authorization to start tearing into things and find the true extent of damages, it was made VERY clear that estimate is a starting point and likely to change, if it’s a significant amount work will be stopped for more deposit & authorization. The entire time there is extreme pressure from agents and all parties to get it done ASAP.

A week into the job it has become clear that no plumbing fixture is salvageable and there are some serious life & safety issues unrelated to original work that need addressing. I write the new, final estimate, email it to Dad, text a pdf to Mom and daughter. Dad comes by and says go ahead, since the contract is in his daughters name I don’t have him sign (also it was a surprise visit and I didn’t have a copy, mistake 2). Mom replies to the text asking for date of deposit, I tell her and that balance is due on x date when work is completed. She says thanks. I have trouble communicating with daughter but everyone else is on board and I’m told she is too so I finish the job. I charge the balance as agreed on the date I said I was going to, send an invoice to the daughter, completed pics to all, am thanked for working so hard.

A week later mom calls me, inspector has issue with work, wants something changed, I take care of it, everyone is happy again, house closes, I’m out of the job from hell. So I think.

This was 3 months ago, now I get a call from Mom saying she didn’t authorize this payment and I overcharged. I point out that I sent copies of adjusted estimate, she replied asking about deposit on said estimate, which I took as a go ahead, plus Dad verbally said go ahead, you all knew the cost and wanted it finished, I finished and charged as agreed. Also my contract states that deposit constitutes agreement with estimate/terms. She says nope, nothing there is authorization, she talked to Dad and Daughter and they never authorized, give me $4,000 back or she’s back charging entire amount and contacting contractor board/state licensing.

To me this is extortion and fraud, but any advice, besides don’t be a dumbass and follow my own procedures, would be greatly appreciated. I’m a little one man LLC, $4,000 will hurt a LOT, the full amount of over $10k lost ruins me for months if not years. Holidays screwed for my family. No money to finish current jobs.

I’m going to try to find a lawyer in my tiny town to talk to, I’m looking online expert help with chargebacks but only see services for big retailer types. Help me ContractorTalk, you’re my only hope!
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Old 12-03-2018, 01:56 PM   #2
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Sorry I forgot to mention I am licensed, bonded & insured, but only supposed to go to $10,000 max per job. Another stupid mistake I know.

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Old 12-03-2018, 02:18 PM   #3
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


I won't bother asking what the contract & change orders say 'cuz I know there aren't any.

I also won't tell you to "follow your own procedures" 'cuz I don't know what those procedures are......... or if there even are any.

You've backed yourself into this corner and now seem to think there's a Magic Bean you can plant that will make it come out all hunky-dorie. You may well have 'no way out' and will have to take your lumps on this.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:24 PM   #4
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


They got the work done and paid for it, house closed so you cant lien it and screw up their sale and now they want their money back.

It's pretty simple encourage them to bring their claim to the state and you will be happy to provide evidence of the work, the sale of the real estate, the time line of events and payments and you will see them in administrative court.

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Old 12-03-2018, 02:24 PM   #5
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Let them file a claim on CC. Sounds like you have the authorization based on wording of your contract "Deposit".
CC will want your side of the story.

If the CC pulls back the funds file small claims court against Mom, Dad, and daughter.
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:25 PM   #6
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


When you go to a restaurant you dont get to eat the whole meal and then complain about it and ask for your money back.

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Old 12-03-2018, 02:38 PM   #7
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Sparky, I had a contract, 3 throughout the job, only one they’re contesting is the final version. But I absolutely did not follow my own rules:

1-Don’t do real estate agent work. Period.
2-Changes require SIGNED contract or clear written authorization, verbal or replies are not sufficient.

Sparehair, that’s what I’m hoping. Hitting me up right before the deadline for chargebacks isn’t a coincidence IMO. My big fear is that CC deducts my account, pending investigation or repeal that can take months, rendering me unable to conduct business using my account or card because of overdrawn status.

I realize this is my own fault, I have restrained myself from letting loose on them so far, this is straight up theft to my eyes. I have a week to give her my decision per her last email, going to sit down with a lawyer for a free estimate hopefully, and keep trying to find an expert in chargeback disputes, and if lawyer doesn’t say no send her a final email detailing the entire timeline with all communications with all parties and call her bluff. Probably an insignificant detail, daughter was supposed to pay Mom back from home sale profits, obviously didn’t pay in full even knowing the full amount, that’s a problem between them though, keep me out of it. What a great way to start the holidays!
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Old 12-03-2018, 03:03 PM   #8
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


If your ducks are in a row, then don't fret it. I wouldn't even bother responding to her email 'demand'. If the work has been done, you've been paid, the property sold........ I fail to really see a problem.

Don't call her bluff..... Just ignore it. She's trying to scare you into coughing up some dough she's not entitled to.

The ball's in her court; I'd wait and see if she has the gumption to volley it back to you.
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Old 12-03-2018, 04:30 PM   #9
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


I've been screwed over like this several times in my 40 years and it sucks. If you do have a small town lawyer, sometimes they will do right by you, make a few calls, and, at least put the "fear of Jesus" in these people, all for a 'smaller than normal' fee. I've done this a couple of times since I do a lot of painting work for our local small town lawyer who has a very tough reputation. Sometimes just having him call the people or their reps is enough to shake them up so they leave you alone. If they want to carry it further, well, you retain the lawyer and go head-to-head with them. In the end, they won't win.

P.S. I always marvel that someone who isn't even in your business says you OVERcharged them. Like they would know your numbers enough to know what THEY should have been charged. Unbelievable.
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Old 12-03-2018, 05:58 PM   #10
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Always up the ante, or just eat it and walk away.

If you want to up the ante, get a lawyer to send a letter detailing that you provided services and charged accordingly. The kicker is pointing out that if she should bring yiur business to a screeching halt by fraudulently backcharging your credit card, you'll hold her liable for damages and punitive damages. Plan on your lawyer getting every penney, nothing into your pocket.

Meanwhile, get some other line of credit going.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:09 PM   #11
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


You got paid. Unless the work is failing there’s no way the state will make you give the money back.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:20 PM   #12
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Quote:
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You got paid. Unless the work is failing there’s no way the state will make you give the money back.
Apparently, he's worried about the credit card company in the short term.
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:24 PM   #13
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Quote:
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Apparently, he's worried about the credit card company in the short term.
That would be credit card fraud. If she does that I’d contact the local police and the feds.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:01 PM   #14
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


2-3 billing cycles AFTER the work was completed and inspected... texts and phone call dates to boot...

She's going to have a hard time making the case that you overcharged her so far after the fact...
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:10 PM   #15
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


3 Months later? Take a hike lady.
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Old 12-03-2018, 07:58 PM   #16
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Maybe she's trying to make some room on the card for Christmas shopping

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Old 12-03-2018, 07:59 PM   #17
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


If you get a lawyer, inquire about triple / triplen / treble damages.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:39 PM   #18
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


I wouldn't be worried.
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Old 12-03-2018, 08:43 PM   #19
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


my take is this client is trying to shake you down using some knowledge they have garnered from your states contracting laws & knowing you bent the rules.

no signed change orders

and you knowingly went over your legal contracting amount

they also you you are a little operation and may be subject to intimidation.

hang tough, like many have said don't even respond....

however, document everything you have to date including her attempts to shake you down.

good luck.
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Old 12-03-2018, 09:23 PM   #20
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Re: Help, Client Trying To Fraud Me.


Send her this.



you

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