Complaints against a general contractor who appears to be following disaster areas are mounting.
A Miami couple reported to authorities Tuesday that Jamie Lawson was hired by them to remodel their home after this year's flood. The elderly couple allegedly gave Lawson over $10,000 for home repairs and the work was never completed.
Greg Lamb said he contacted a local contractor to estimate the cost to finish repairing his grandparents' home.
“The contractor gave Lamb an estimate of $9,200 for material and labor,” Miami Police Officer Jeff Garber said.
Lamb's grandparents are among many homeowners who have reported they were scammed by the 32-year-old contractor from Mississippi.
Avril Henze of Gautier, Miss., said she met Lawson shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated her home.
“He is the perfect gentleman,” Henze said. “He really knows how to lay on the charm.”
Henze said she hired Lawson to repair her residence, as well as a rental property she owned. The cost to repair both homes was estimated at several thousand dollars.
“He wanted money up-front and I had formed what I considered a friendly relationship with Jamie, so I didn't hesitate to write him a check,” Henze said. “First there was a family emergency. Then he had a job he had to finish up in South Carolina. Several weeks passed and he still hadn't started working on my house.”
What made matter's worse, according to Henze, is that she had agreed to sell her rental property to Lawson, taking the labor cost of repairing it off of the purchase price.
“He was getting the house very cheap,” Henze said.
Henze said Lawson rented the home to a third party before the final agreement was made on the purchase and without her knowledge.
“The renters really tore the house up,” Henze said. “And I never head from Jamie again.”
Ultimately, Lawson's brother stepped in and completed his brother's obligation to Henze. But the incident still cost Henze about $25,000.
Lawson was arrested in Miami on Oct. 9, for warrants out of Jackson County, Mississippi. The warrant was issued based on a fraud complaint filed by Benny Nash, also of Gautier, Miss. Nash alleges that Lawson scammed him after Hurricane Katrina as well.
According to local court records, Lawson was released from Ottawa County Jail on a $10,000 bond. Despite a confirmation from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office that Jackson County would extradite, Lawson was not taken back to Mississippi to face felony charges.
Authorities in North Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana say they have taken similar complaints from disaster victims with regard to Lawson's business practices.