MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police say a contractor was arrested after he took thousands of dollars for services he never performed.
Memphis Police say in February, Bobby Ellis, 38, was hired to do home improvement services on a house on Selman Avenue near North Bingham Street in Binghampton.
Police say the repairs were going to cost $70,000. The victim reportedly paid Ellis $35,000 upfront and would pay the rest when the work was done.
According to police, Ellis showed up at the house on March 2 and worked for one day. He allegedly has not been back to the house since.
The homeowner told officers Ellis blocked her on social media and hasn’t been to the property in more than 90 days.
Memphis Police say Ellis “refused all forms of communication.” Police say Ellis was sent a certified 10-day demand letter asking that he either return the money or finish working on the house.
Police say a copy of the letter was sent to Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.
Vernon Houston, who is also a contractor, claims Ellis ripped him off too.
“I did some work for him once a couple times, didn’t work out too good,” Houston said. “I didn’t get paid.”
Houston said Ellis owes him $1,500.
He said this situation makes independent contractors look bad.
“These type of people make it hard hopefully y’all don’t think everybody out to get you because that’s not the case,” Houston said.
We stopped by Ellis’ last known address but no one answered.
Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau says it’s important to watch how much you pay contractors upfront.
“$35,000 on a $75,000 job is way too much the BBB recommends that you pay no more than 30 percent upfront and that you use a credit card when you do that,” Irwin said.
And when it comes to choosing between large companies and independent contractors they want you to look at the pros and cons.
“When you use a smaller company that price might be a little less because they have overhead but you may have a harder time holding them accountable,” Irwin said.
Ellis has been charged with one count of fraud by a home improvement contractor worth $10,000 – $60,000. He posted bond Thursday and is scheduled to appear in court on July 29.
The homeowner also told police she has hired an attorney and will pursue a civil case against Ellis.