Worst Raleigh Contractors of 2010
704 Locksmiths/NC Charlotte Locksmith/Locksmith Services | North Carolina
Ed Walters, owner of highly rated Raleigh Locksmith Service, says he became upset when he started receiving calls complaining of shoddy work - especially since the callers weren't his customers.
Instead, they were customers duped by a phony locksmith scam operated by Tamir Avraham and Anna Konevsky, according to a lawsuit filed in August by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
The suit alleges Avraham and Konevsky used more than 40 business names, such as NC Charlotte Locksmith, Raleigh-Locksmith and dozens more, to set up phone numbers and websites claiming to be local, licensed locksmiths.
"I was the biggest victim of everybody," Walters says. Not only did he lose business, he says, but the scam also tarnished his name and he says he received threatening phone calls from Avraham after complaining to authorities.
He wasn't the only victim. Locked-out customers called and received low quotes, but fees spiked to hundreds of dollars more after unlicensed, untrained workers drilled out their locks, then tacked on extra fees and demanded payment in cash, according to court records.
That's what happened to Gena Triplett's 19-year-old son, who called her after locking himself out of his car. The locksmith she found online quoted $29 but the final bill was $137. "We were scammed," she says.
In August, a Wake County Superior Court judge permanently banned Avraham, Konevsky, their companies and employees from doing business in North Carolina. The pair still owe more than $1.2 million in fines, AG spokeswoman Noelle Talley says, and authorities believe they've left the country.
Tommy Edward Clack | Greensboro, N.C.
A Wake County Superior Court judge in July permanently banned paving contractor Tommy Edward Clack, 38, from operating in North Carolina following his arrest in May for unlicensed contracting and numerous complaints to the state attorney general, according to court records.
Clack, who returns as a Raleigh Worst Contractor for the second year in a row, violated a 2008 court order, the judge said, that prohibited him from pressuring customers to sign paving contracts.
That order followed Clack's 2007 guilty plea to 26 misdemeanors for not notifying customers of their right to cancel contracts in New Hanover County, for which he received three years probation, court records show.
In May, Southern Pines [N.C.] Police arrested Clack for the same crime and operating without a license, according to police records.
The Wake County judge ordered Clack to pay four customers refunds of $27,500, or face more jail time. Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, says Clack paid the refunds in July. "We have heard that he may now be in Maryland, attempting to run a similar scheme," she says.
Phillip and Patricia Odom of Sanford say they hired Clack, who identified himself as David Stuart, to repave their driveway after seeing his newspaper ad. Within weeks, the Odoms say, the driveway had cracks and grass shooting through it. They later received an $11,000 refund. "All he did was tell us a bunch of lies," Phillip says.
South Carolina also ordered Clack to stop operating there in October 2009, says Teresa Higgins, spokeswoman for that state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
In 2010, a Florence, S.C., grand jury indicted Clack on four felony counts of obtaining property under false pretenses and four misdemeanor counts of swindling, according to court records. No trial dates had been set as of press time.
Clack could not be reached for comment. A notice alerts members to his felony arrest.
— by Meranda Watling