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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When Davis Construction was referred by a family member to Renee York two years ago, she says she thought they were trustworthy.

She needed to get her roof repaired, and after paying the company over $8,000 through her insurance, she’s now left with a $17,000 bill to fix the damage she says they left behind.

“I’ve had three roofers out here to give me estimates. All three said it’s a total disaster, and it has to be taken off and totally redone,” York said.

York says the work was done by Melvin Davis, the owner of Davis Construction.

“I asked him about his insurance company. And he just kept saying he didn’t want to file a claim. After further digging, [I found] he wasn’t licensed, insured or bonded,” York said. 

I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor went to the company address listed on the Davis Construction contract. It turns out Davis had been using the address of an entirely different business.

Another woman, who didn’t want to be identified, told I-Team 8 she also paid Davis to repair her roof. She says she paid over $9,000 but was left having to pay a different contractor $18,000 to get the roof fixed again.

“I have no way of paying [that kind of money],” York, a single mother of two, said. “[I just] hope my roof isn’t condemned, hope my house isn’t condemned.”

The attorney general’s office confirmed to I-Team 8 it has one open case against Davis Construction, but the office was prohibited from sharing details or talking about Davis. However, Scott Barnhart, chief counsel and director of the consumer protection division, says proving a criminal act in these cases is harder than people think.

“Very often [it’s handled] in civil court, not in criminal court, just because of the nature of the contract and the fact that there was some sort of agreement that was reached between the contractor and the consumer. It is difficult to bring these actions because lawyers are expensive,” he said.

York has been putting up the fight against Davis in court without a lawyer. She did win her case and Davis was ordered to refund her. But York says she’s only received $200 back.

“I’m not going to say I don’t cry about it sometimes If my house were condemned, I don’t have money for another house. I don’t know what I would do. I would be on the street. I just … I don’t have anywhere to turn,” York said.

Court records show a judge has found Melvin Davis in contempt of court for not making payments. He’s scheduled back in court next month for another contempt of court hearing. After several calls to his lawyer, I-Team 8 learned the attorney withdrew from the case Tuesday.

I-Team 8 reached out to Davis several times and has not gotten a response.

Barnhart says anyone looking to get home improvement work done should take the following steps to avoid falling to fraud:

  • Look for signs of someone asking you to pay all the money upfront; this is a sign the person could be fraudulent
  • Check for insurance, properly licensed, and bonded
  • Know consumers have a right to cancel their contract within three business days
  • Check with local officials
  • Read reviews on the business (a good website is the Better Business Bureau)

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