12 ON YOUR SIDE: Tree removal trouble

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Door-to-door solicitors manage to scam someone after every big storm. But vulnerable homeowners, struggling to cleanup fallen trees, aren't the only victims.

Some people who show up at your door are not who they say they are.

While investigating a complaint from a woman in Henrico's Chamberlayne Farms neighborhood, I discovered a tree removal business is also a victim in this scam. Three men are using the company's name in an underhanded scheme to get money.

"They were driving a red pickup truck that had those wooden slacks on the back," said Deborah Rogers.

A huge tree still blocks Deborah Rogers' yard two months after the storm. She remembers the crew that handed her a business card from Dave's Tree Service out of Fredericksburg. They were willing workers in an emergency, quoting a bargain price.

"I should have realized, because they didn't have enough equipment with them, and when they started approaching me for more money, I knew it was a scam."

Deborah said they offered to take down her damaged tree, grind down stump, and haul away debris for $250.

"They dropped it and then they put little cuts in it like they were doing something."

She insisted on the price when the men approached her for more money to grind the stump. They walked off the job when Deborah refused.

"I said, 'No.' No. No. No. I said, 'I'll give you $250' and I wrote them a check just to get them out of my face. They wanted a blank check. I already knew that was a problem."

I called the number on the business card the same night and, right away, got a return call from the company owner.

Helen and David Dobbins — visibly upset — drove to the victim's home the next morning and reported the double scam to Henrico Police.

"There could be more people out there who've been scammed the same way, and we just don't know it yet," said Helen.

Now, they have a name and the bank where Deborah's check was deposited.

"We're going to file charges," said Helen. "For them to just take a company name and do whatever they see fit... to me, they need to be charged for impersonating us, impersonating a company that does good business."

Deborah called 12 to warn others. Now, Henrico Police are investigating — and the real Dave's Tree Service wants to finish the work...

"I'll cut it off, flush with the ground, and I'll get all of this log out of your yard — free of charge," said David.

...and may even return Deborah's $250.

"I do very much appreciate that," said Deborah. "It just makes me feel good. Channel 12 helped me out."

Dave's Tree Service said it's been in business 25 years and want people to know they always operate with a contract — whether the job is big or small. They don't take money up front, and David Dobbins is present on every job.

The company will complete Deborah's tree work next Wednesday.

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