(Hockessin, DE 19707) On March 23, 2022, officers from the New Castle County Division of Police were dispatched to the unit block of Pierson’s Ridge – Pierson’s Ridge community in reference to a home improvement fraud. A 62-year-old male victim reported that he paid Alexander Woods of Dreamscape Design-Build several large payments to complete multiple landscaping projects. The victim stated that several of the projects were started without being completed and materials were purchased without ever being delivered.
After a lengthy investigation, the officers signed arrest warrants for Alexander Woods, and he was processed at police headquarters on September 10, 2022. He was charged with one felony count of home improvement fraud and one felony count of theft. Woods was arraigned by the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas and was released on $6,000.00 secured bail.
Based on the investigation, the officers determined that Woods was conducting business in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The Division is concerned that there may be additional victims who have not yet come forward. Any individual wishing to provide information pertaining to Alexander Woods or who may be victim to a similar fraud is asked to please contact Officer Joseph Delaney at Joseph.Delaney@newcastlede.gov or by calling the New Castle County Division of Police non-emergency number at (302)573-2800.
Tipsters may also call Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333 or visit us on Facebook (IM) at New Castle County Division of Police.
As a friendly reminder, here’s what you can do to help avoid being victimized by a home repair scam.
Do insist on seeing references. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends asking past customers detailed questions, including whether the project was completed on time and if there were unexpected costs. The FTC also suggests asking the contractor if you can visit a job currently in progress.
Do require a bid in writing and compare bids from multiple contractors before agreeing to any work.
Do check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website to see contractors’ ratings and whether any complaints have been filed against them.
Do get a written contract before you pay any money and before the work starts.
Do read the fine print. The BBB says a contract should include a detailed description of the work, material costs, start and completion dates, and warranty information.
Do verify, before you make the final payment, that all work has been completed to your satisfaction, any subcontractors or suppliers have been paid and the job site has been cleaned up.
Don’t pay cash. The FTC recommends using a check or credit card or arranging to finance.
Don’t put down a big deposit. The initial payment should be no more than a third of the total estimate, payable on the day the materials arrive.
Don’t automatically take the lowest bid. Some contractors cut corners to come in lower than competitors, according to the BBB. The FTC recommends that if one contractor’s estimate is significantly less than those of competitors, ask why.
Don’t let the contractor arrange financing for you. The FTC warns that you might be tricked into signing up for a home-equity loan with hefty fees or a high-interest rate, or one in which the lender pays the contractor directly, giving him or her little incentive to finish the job or do it properly.
Here are some more websites that can help you with any questions:
If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud, please do not feel embarrassed or ashamed. These scammers can be very convincing, and you are not alone. Contact the New Castle County Division of Police.