Handyman Charged: Paid But Never Delivered

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Law officers say they're as much a part of summer as mosquitoes, and that's scam artists, promising bargain-priced home repairs or yard work, if you pay up-front.

Except they never deliver.

But volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd reports, one alleged victim has managed to turn the tables.

Her alleged scammer apparently presented himself as high-profile roofing contractor.

The real contractor says the guy's a liar.

“I'm angry at myself for not knowing better. Because I'd been taken before,” Sandra Dykes now has a beautifully landscaped yard.

No thanks, she says, to 40-year-old William Tommy James, who offered to do it a month ago, but ”He never did quote me, he just kept saying, he kept asking for more money.”

After, she says, she'd written him two checks for materials, but no work. “It was always, we'll be there in the morning. Morning never did come.”

“She had a feeling in her gut that he was lying, so he called her older brother, which is me.” So Alvin Harper called James, pretending he needed some work done on his roof and his chimney at his mobile home in Vestal.

“He's been passing himself off as A & A Roofing, and telling people those are his ads in the phone book,” says Don Williams, Owner of A&A Roofing. “The Better Business Bureau's been notified, they know it's not me, so there's nothing that can be done.”

Until Alvin Harper called Knox County Sheriff's out to arrest William Tommy James.

“Took ‘em awhile to get up here, they was getting sort of twitchy,” Harper says.

James has been charged with felony theft.

But prosecutors say his lack of priors means a guilty plea likely would earn him probation.

“I don't think I'll ever get my money, but at least I know the law has got him,” says Sandra. “That this has taught him he can't get away with hurting people, and ripping people off.”

The larger lesson for all of us: always get written estimates.

Never pay for any work or material, before it's even started.

We've been unable to reach William Tommy James, for his side of the story.

His lawyer tells WVLT she won't say anything until the case is tried or settled.

Again, James’ record shows no priors.

But, if you've ever hired him, or know of him, Knox County Sheriff's investigators want to talk to you.

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