MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Problem Solvers tracked down and exposed another absent contractor who worked without a license and left an expectant homeowner scrambling.
Crystell Oliver purchased a three-story home on Oakview Street as a birthday gift for herself. She considered it an investment property and knew it needed a lot of work.
“I’m gonna turn it into an Airbnb," she said. “I came in. I took all the plaster out and did a complete demo of it.”
She decided to hire a man named Terry Hampton to do all the work. She said he called his company T. Hamp and Sons.
“I was referred to him by a local investor, great friend of mine. He had done minor work for him in the past," she said.
That work looked quality, so she felt good going into it.
They signed an agreement detailing everything he’d do.
“I paid him the first draw, $2,500, and then after the $2,500 was paid he came in from that. For the first two weeks he was here three to four days a week. A week after, he said he needed another $2500 to pay his crew," she said.
She paid it and he cashed it. But soon after, the crews stopped coming. That’s when Oliver took a closer look at the work they had already done.
“It was not sectioned off," she said. “When I started noticing things were being masked and covered I told him, ‘I’m gonna have code enforcement come in to make sure everything done properly.’ Cold turkey.”
She texted him a few more times, but never heard back. After two weeks of work, Terry Hampton abandoned the job.
Oliver filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and they began an investigation. She also called Memphis Police. They took an incident report.
And then she called the WREG Problem Solvers.
“Replace my money. Reimburse me," she said.
WREG found Terrence Hampton does not have a Tennessee Home Improvement license, which is required to do work for less than $2,500 in Shelby County.
Then WREG went to the Holly Springs address where the Tennessee Department of Commerce served him his complaint. We met a woman who said she’s still married to Hampton, but they’ve been separated for years. She remembered getting that paperwork for her estranged husband.
“I did. I actually tried calling him one day and asking him, what was this about? I don’t want nothing I worked hard for to pay for this. Of course I didn’t get an answer," she said.
Instead, she directed us to another home in Lamar, Mississippi, the same one listed in the incident report taken by Memphis Police.
We went there, but relatives said they didn't know where he was.
“He in and out, in and out. This the family home," said a woman who answered the front door.
The relative told us she didn’t know about the situation with Oliver, except what she’d seen on Facebook.
During all this, Oliver had posted a warning, saying in part, “Please be careful on who you pick as a contractor! I made the biggest mistake…”
In the comments, Hampton responded by saying his team did their job: “3 guys for two weeks. I didn’t get anything nor was I trying. I was helping you out.”
WREG Problem Solvers went back to Hampton’s family home in Lamar several more times to ask him about this in person as well as Oliver’s money.
We finally spotted a man we thought was him driving a work van similar to one he’d posted on Facebook.
But the driver denied being Terry and drove away without answering any questions.
When we returned, we found that same white van parked out back.
A woman who answered the door said Hampton wasn't home and confirmed that was his van.
“That’s where his truck be for the last month or so," she said.
Oliver wanted everyone to see and know about Hampton.
"Hopefully justice is served. I hope at this point he learns a lesson and he gets over swindling people," Oliver said.
She’s already hired a new contractor to fix the work.
"All the new wood you see, he was supposed to have done, he did but we had to redo because it wasn’t level," she said.
And she wanted people to know you can do something about bad contractors; report them like she did to a state regulatory board and to local law enforcement.
“My ultimate goal is to make sure someone else sees this newscast and know to be more cautious when dealing with contractors," she said.
That’s an even bigger mission than getting her money back, but she will keep fighting for that too.
For information to file a complaint about a contractor doing work in Mississippi, click here.
To verify a contractor's license in Mississippi, click here.
For information to file a complaint about a contractor doing work in Tennessee, click here.
To verify a contractor's license in Tennessee, click here.
For information to file a complaint about a contractor doing work in Arkansas, click here.
To verify a contractor's license in Arkansas, click here.