Elderly Targets of Unlicensed Contractors in LR Neighborhood

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- A pair of unlicensed contractors is targeting a Little Rock neighborhood and preying on the elderly. 

"Came to my door and knocked on it and said they wanted to repair my driveway," says Jerry Bryant, who lives in the Briarwood neighborhood. 

Bryant agreed to have two men, Dusty Joles and another man, do some concrete work on his driveway after negotiating what he felt was a fair price. 

"My van is a handicap van and it drags going in the driveway," says Bryant, "so they built me a ramp."

Birkett Wootton, an investigator with the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board says Joles was arrested before for stealing almost thirty thousand dollars from a Briarwood woman. 

Now, out on parole, Wootton says Joles is back at it. 

He says the scam is that the unlicensed contractors do work for one neighbor who can vouch for them.  Once they have their foot in the door, they run their scam.

"Typically what they do is they give a very small dollar figure up front for the work that they're going to do and once it's done they come up and present them with a bill for an exorbitant amount of money," says Wootton.

They usually prey on the elderly and disadvantaged; people who tend to be trusting.

Wootton says if the homeowner questions the price, the suspects use intimidation tactics to get them to pay. 

Most of the time the unlicensed contractors work under the radar.

"If people know that this happens it makes it difficult on them to run their scam," says Wootton.

With this pair, Wootton says another neighbor who had concrete work done was the victim, with the suspects asking for more than $4500 after the work was done and trying to scare the victim into paying it. 

"This is a niche that these guys have found to work in where they often times don't get any scrutiny from the authorities," says Wootton.

"I hope somebody catches them because from what I understand they have been scamming very elderly people and that don't go with me," says Bryant.

A business phone number listed for Dusty Joles is no longer in service.  According to the Better Business Bureau, his contracting company is not in business.

Police are investigating to see about possible criminal charges. 

The Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board says always do your research before hiring anyone to do work for you.  Wootton warns never to pay money up front and to ask for a copy of the contractor's license and liability insurance.  He says makes sure to call and check the validity of both. 

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