At a time of year when many homeowners are having their trees trimmed, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office is warning about door-to-door contractors.
Assistant District Attorney Joanne Woodruff is head of the Elder Fraud division at the DA’s office. She said people should hire licensed, established contractors.
Tree Amigos is one established business with reviews online and a license with the City of San Antonio. Owner Justin Joseph said not all tree contractors are alike.
"(They) might not be insured, they could drop a limb that does damage and they could get in their truck and just go to the next person," Joseph said.
Several years ago, the district attorney's office prosecuted a door-to-door tree trimmer. Felix Valdez was convicted of taking thousands of dollars and a truck from an elderly woman.
The victim was an 82-year old woman and Valdez offered to trim her trees and do some power-washing. An investigation showed he took a check for $1,000, two checks for $200, a check for $3,680 and finally the woman's 1988 Dodge truck.
The woman’s grandson, Billy Alford, said Valdez did hardly any work.
"For one branch and half the sidewalk power-washed, (it was) pretty expensive."
And this happened despite the family keeping a watchful eye on the matriarch of the family.
"The people need to be aware of this and keep a good eye on their parents and grandparents," Alford said.
A case was filed and Valdez was arrested and convicted.
In cases like these, Woodruff said victims usually do not get their money back.
"Now we did get it back in that case against Mr. Valdez as a part of the plea agreement,” Woodruff said. “He paid everything back, gave the truck back and then received probation."
She said many people who are scammed by unscrupulous contractors can lose their money and their property.
Here is a link to the City of San Antonio website where you can check to see if contractors are licensed.