Emily Baucum, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Homeowners in at least nine Oklahoma counties say they were scammed by the same businessman. They each hired him to build a pole barn on their properties, and say he started the job, took the money and ran.
The man's name is Jason Priest. He has worked under several different company names. Here in Green Country, it was the Muskogee Barn Company.
But no matter what he calls his company, homeowners say it's the same scam.
"It's horrible. It's almost like a violation," said Jason Marsh, one of the scam victims. "You want something simple. You deal with someone who you think is on the up-and-up. And they turn around and pull this on you."
Jason Marsh hired a builder named Jason Priest to build a pole barn. He signed a contract with a three-part payment plan worth more than $10,000.
"First payment, got this. Second payment, nothing," Marsh said.
After 43 days of getting the run-around, Marsh asked for his second payment back.
"'No, no, no. I'll be there tomorrow.' Of course, he wouldn't show," Marsh said. "He started sending me text messages saying, 'I'll just come rip the building up.'"
Vernon Shatwell also hired Jason Priest to build a pole barn at his home.
"From the time I signed the contract I had a bad feeling about the whole situation,"Shatwell said. "That I shouldn't do it. But I did."
"When he got his second payment of $4,053 I never saw him again," Shatwell said. "Finally about three or four days later I Googled him on the Internet and found barnscam.net."
This is a website where others who say they've been scammed by Jason Priest have compiled information, including his lengthy court records, hoping to keep others from falling victim.
Marsh worked with the credit card company to get some of his money back.
Shatwell took Priest to civil court where he won a judgment of $9,100 plus attorney fees and damages.
They've done about all they can. Since Priest took the money and did build something, he can only be taken to civil court. No criminal charges can be filed.
"It's just hard to collect anything from somebody if they don't have nothing to begin with, because when he came out here and did the framework, all he had was a hammer and nails," Shatwell said.
The victims say a simple Google search would have saved them the headache. Now they'll check with court records and the Better Business Bureau before the hire anyone in the future.