MACON, Ga. — A sheriff in Louisiana says a Macon pastor took money from people to repair hurricane damage on their homes, but never finished the work.
The Allen Parish Sheriff's Office says Jimmy Collins Jr. was arrested Monday on six felony warrants for fraud and swindling.
They say in 2020, he bilked victims of Hurricane Laura.
Brandy Wyatt says she reached out to James Collins' Choice Roofing Company in May 2021.
She says a representative told her they could start work right away.
Instead, she says she lost $15,000 and her bathroom is still unfinished.
“Now it is August and it’s been a year and five months, six months and I still have a complete unusable master shower, no plumbing to the shower and the shelves are unfinished. The paint job is terrible, the flooring has something coming up underneath it because the flooring wasn’t leveled properly, I think,” she says.
She says when she asked him for updates on completion, she was met with many excuses until finally she just didn’t hear back. Adding, that the consequences are still following her.
“Then I found out that he never paid the plumber that he subcontracted and he didn't pay for the flooring subcontract, so they’re talking about putting liens on the house for their money that Jimmy has,” says Wyatt.
Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman says Crawford County has two warrants out for Collins arrest and Monroe County one.
“He would receive money, maybe just do part of the work and then basically disappear,” says Freeman
The Better Business Bureau warns people to beware of contractor fraud, especially after tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters.
Kelvin Collins with the Better Business Bureau says when tragedy strikes some people try to profit off of the disaster by following it. He says to be wary of people who go door-to-door after a storm.
“Before you sign the contact with someone to do the work, make sure this is a company that’s reputable, look them up, and check to make sure they are from inside the state.”
He also encourages talking to someone else about your options before making a decision.
“Because you may have something you know this person convinces you that they the best deal that you’re ever gonna find and then you discuss it with someone else and they can raise questions that you never thought of,” Collins says.
Collins says it also encourages people to look up companies and see how they handle complaints.
“Go to bbb.org to find out if the company has a record [and see] how they’ve handled complaints in the past,” adding “ if a company does have complaints that doesn’t concern me. What I always look at is how did they handle that complaint. did they step up and make it right or did they run and hide?”
Lastly, he says it’s important to get everything in writing including paperwork saying that they have paid any subcontractors.
“Make sure you're asking company's before they come on their property for their insurance certificate. Companies will provide this they are used to it. It’s not something that they are gonna talk you out of getting. If they do that’s a huge red flag.”