Tacoma contractor charged with scamming Pierce County homeowners out of deposits, doing little or no work
Lots of excuses, no finished projects:
TACOMA — A Tacoma man faces charges he cheated five Pierce County homeowners out of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars for construction projects he never finished and typically never even started.
Jasen Anthony Ayers, 41, has been charged with two counts of second-degree felony theft, five counts of unregistered contracting, and one count of doing business without a license. He’s scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31, in Pierce County Superior Court.
State law requires construction contractors to register with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and to obtain a business license from the Washington State Department of Revenue. L&I confirms contractors have the business license, liability insurance, a bond, and meet other requirements.
“Hiring an unregistered contractor can leave consumers with little recourse if something goes wrong,” said Chris Bowe, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards division. “It’s terrible when customers lose their hard-earned cash to someone they trusted to do a good job.
“That’s one reason why our inspectors check construction sites to make sure contractors register with us and catch those who don’t.”
The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on investigations by L&I’s contractor compliance program, the state Department of Revenue, and state Attorney General investigators.
Multiple business names
Ayers was doing business as Ayers and Sons Remodeling, Superior Remodeling, Kingdom Construction, RIG Remodeling, Western Remodeling, and Once In A Lifetime Remodeling at the time of the alleged incidents. None of the companies was registered as a construction contractor with L&I, and only two had business licenses, charging papers said.
Ayers is accused of bidding on home improvement and repair projects for five homeowners in Tacoma, Puyallup, Spanaway and University Place in 2018 and 2019. Most of the victims found him through Porch.com, a website that connects contractors and consumers, charging papers said.
In keeping with Ayers’ requirement to pay 50-percent down, victims paid deposits of $150 to $4,000, adding up to just over $9,000. In return, however, he did little work for two of the homeowners and none for the others.
Variety of excuses
According to charging papers, Ayers gave a variety of excuses when he failed to show up for work: He forgot his child had eye surgery scheduled, his truck broke down, a crew member got sick, he had a family emergency, he fell behind on another job.
And although he agreed to return down payments to several customers, he never did.
One of the victims, a Puyallup homeowner who wanted her $300 deposit back, texted Ayers in July 2018 that she had contacted L&I about him. Ayers responded that he would have told her he was not licensed, bonded or insured, but she never asked.
15 civil infractions
Ayers also acknowledged he had been cited previously by L&I, texting her, “Already been fined that wonderful 5000.”
Unregistered contractor fines range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the number of citations the contractor has received.
In addition to recommending criminal charges, L&I contractor compliance inspectors cited Ayers with 15 civil infractions in 2018 and 2019, most of them for unregistered contracting. He has not paid any of the fines.
L&I advises people looking for contractors to:
- Hire contractors registered with L&I.
- Verify their registration at ProtectMyHome.net.
- Get three written bids.
- Don’t pay in full until the job gets done.
- Pay materials suppliers directly instead of going through the contractor.
- Beware of writing checks to an individual instead of the company name.
- Get more tips at ProtectMyHome.net.
Debby Abe, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6043