12 ON YOUR SIDE ALERT: Warning about Tree Service Company

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An elderly Henrico viewer calls 12 after he claims he was duped out of $2,800. He said he paid an out-of-town tree service company money to do some work but said once the workers got the cash, they left town.

85-year-old Floyd Boothe admits he's a bit too trusting. "By nature, I tend to take people with their word. I don't immediately become suspicious of someone the first time I meet them," he told us.

That trust worked against him when he needed some yard work done. He hired a company that was in town from Bealeton, Virginia. We checked, it's over an hour way in the Northern part of the state. "These guys are slick as glass," Boothe told us.

He said the workers were with Smith's Tree and Firewood Service. He hired them to grind some tree stumps and clean some debris from his yard. Everything was going fine until he wrote a check.

"They will come around and promise you the Moon but they want that check, and if you give it to them, they are gone," said Boothe.

Unfortunately, that's what happened. He admits he neglected to even get a copy of the contract he signed. Boothe gave the workers a $2,800 check. Shortly after, the money and the workers disappeared. "When they left for lunch, that was his deal, is we have got to go for lunch and I haven't seen him since," he explained.

The company in question has an "F" rating with the BBB. The consumer group says it hasn't been able to reach anyone with the tree service and doesn't have sufficient background information on them. The business card Boothe received had a phone number and an email address but no physical address.

NBC12 tried emailing and calling several times to get their side of the story - we never got a response.

"It makes me upset - but not in an angry sense, as so much as I feel foolish. About six months ago, we had a Henrico police officer come over and talk about this very thing," he said.

The BBB offers these tips: Check the contractor out with the them first, don't hire out-of-town contractors, don't pay money up front and ask for insurance and references. Boothe knows he will probably never get his money back but he called 12 to warn others to do their homework before giving up their cash. "It makes me look foolish well, I will pay that to nail this guy," he says.

Boothe is now working to find a local company in good standing to do the work. Remember, if you need to research a company or file a complaint, contact your local Better Business Bureau.

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