CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A local man is accused of scamming thousands of dollars from Richmond-area couples while posing as a licensed contractor. Police in both Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties are now involved.
In Dinwiddie, warrants are out for Thomas Ray Lee Jr.’s arrest.
8News spoke with victims in both counties who said they’ve lost thousands of dollars getting scammed by the same man recently. Now, there’s a network of other victims working to find him.
“This guy makes a living off of scamming people,” said Alycia Reid, from Chesterfield. Last month, she and her husband wanted an $800 deck modification. She found Thomas Ray Lee Jr. on Facebook after unsuccessfully looking for a communicative contractor who would do the work. She said someone had recommended Lee through the social media platform. She reached out.
Lee replied quickly and was ultimately hired to do the job. His company was called Pro Home Services RVA, according to Reid’s paper receipts.
According to Reid, Lee was quite the smooth talker. “He called me and said Ms. Reid, I think these deck boards are dry rotted, you may need a whole new, whole new deck boards,” she told 8News Tuesday.
The small project quickly became a $4,300 investment. Reid regrettably sent the man $3,000 on Venmo in separate payments. Shortly after that, he said he was injured in a car accident. The man canceled the job, stopped answering her calls and texts, and has not issued any refund. “He does not have any remorse,” she said.
Her deck was left torn apart. “Now we have to fix his damage which is costing us another $1200,” Reid said, “So you’re looking at $5,000 that we’re out right now because of this guy.”
After filing a police report in Chesterfield and posting on social media, Reid realized she’s not alone.
“I’ve had many people reach out to me so far and they’ve been scammed by him too,” she said.
One of those people is Pam Wiggins in Dinwiddie. In April, Wiggins hired Lee to work on a screened-in porch at her home. She said he gave her an estimate and she paid him nearly $2,200.
He ultimately cut off communications with Wiggins — just a few weeks before Reid contacted him.
Wiggins filed a report in May. On Tuesday, Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office authorities said they have three outstanding warrants for Thomas Ray Lee Jr.’s arrest, directly stemming from what happened to Wiggins.
In Dinwiddie, Lee Jr. is accused of felony construction fraud, felony obtaining money under false pretenses, and misdemeanor working without a contractor’s license. Chesterfield Police confirm they are also investigating what happened to Reid.
“I just pray that he gets caught, and our justice system comes through, and locks him up for a long time,”Reid said.
Both she and Wiggins said they have quite a few regrets — and wished they’d noticed multiple red flags sooner.
For example, Wiggins said she should have known something was wrong when the contractor showed up at her home in an Uber. Reid said she should have been alarmed when there was no company address listed on the receipts he gave her.
Both said they’ve learned from this, and hope others do, too. However, they’re still in tough financial situations because of it.
Wiggins and her husband are elderly. She said losing $2,000 has “devastated” her family. “He has to be stopped,” she told 8News Tuesday.
Reid said she works two jobs and that her husband coincidently just lost his job. “We didn’t see that coming, obviously, otherwise we might not have done this project,” she said. The Chesterfield woman also added that members of the community have offered to help and sends them a big “thank you” for doing so.
Both victims said the man needs to be arrested before someone else is victimized. Authorities also gave tips to people seeking contractor work.
- Check references
- Ask to see their contractor’s license
- Look the contractor up on Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s website
- Check the Better Business Bureau’s database
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.