KENTWOOD, Mich. (May 7, 2014) — School teachers Brent Klug and Angela Rivas want to warn about a contractor named James Fouse.
The couple said they suffered water damage to a couple of ceilings in their Kentwood home. They said that prompted them to do a complete remodel of their master bathroom.
“We were going to do a whole new floor, toilet, sink, new shower tile. Everything,” Klug pointed out.
They’re tight on money and are a young family of six. So they tried to be cost conscious.
“So we went onto Craigslist to see if we could find a contractor for a reasonable price,” Rivas said.
Rivas came across James Fouse of Grand Rapids. According to one of Fouse’s ads, he’s a contractor and runs a business called “Building Improvement Resources.” He has also gone by “Handyman Services.”
“He said if we gave him cash, he would give us a discount,” Klug said.
They said he impressed them with his presentation and his prices.
“For $2,000 for labor he was a good thousand to $500 cheaper than everybody else,” Klug said.
Two days after signing a contract, the couple said they gave Fouse $1,000 cash upfront. That’s half of what the job would cost. The couple showed us the contract.
That day, on April 24th, the work began.
Klug said, “He and his son came, and they kind of ripped the sink out, ripped the toilet out.”
Tile was also pulled out, Klug said. However, he said that’s where the work ended.
All three guys left.
“We figured they were going to another job, and they’d be back the next day,’” Klug explained.
The next day, Klug said the workers didn’t show.
The concerned couple called Fouse.
“We blew up his phone. We texted and nothing,” Rivas said.
They’ve gotten no response. So Rivas did a Google search on the man she trusted with her money.
“I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,’” Rivas recalled.
I searched too. A craiglist post warns of James Fouse and the poster calls Fouse’s business a scam.
A website advertising his services is registered to Fouse, and it said, “Senior discounts available.”
Records obtained from the Kent County Courthouse on James Fouse show several civil court cases.
Some involve seniors. Some of the plaintiffs called Fouse a “fraud.”
They said they gave him a downpayment. He and his crew never did the work and just disappeared.
The plaintiff’s won their case.
FOX 17 also learned through Michigan State Police records that Fouse has lengthy criminal rap sheet.
It include a conviction and guilty pleas regarding fraudulent activities.
“He swindled us. He was a good talker,” Klug said
FOX 17 wanted to get Fouse’s side of the story.
Fouse said the couple was supposed to order construction materials for the job but never did.
The couple said that’s not true, and Fouse backed out before they could pick up anything.
Fouse then told FOX 17 that the couple never gave him money to do the work.
When FOX 17 told him we saw the contract… he hung up.
FOX 17 went to numerous addresses listed for James Fouse (born - 1959).
On the contract Fouse wrote up, he listed 804 Turnner (sic) as his address. However, that address doesn’t even exist. His website is registered to “James Fouse” living at 803 Turner.
FOX 17 went to that house and no one was home.
“We really needed that money and now we’re kind of stuck,” Klug said.
They’re also stuck with a large dumpster in their driveway for the time being. Klug said he and his wife rented it for $200-a-month at Fouse’s request.
Their toilet and sink now sit in the garbage. Those items are reminders of their hard earned cash which they say disappeared with James Fouse.
“I would just hate for this to happen to anyone else,” Rivas said.
The couple said they plan to file a police report.
The third time FOX 17 called Fouse, he didn’t hang up. He said he never received payment. The couple said they gave him cash, and he counted it on the spot.
Stay with FOX 17 for updates on this situation. If you or someone you know has dealt with James Fouse, email ProblemSolvers@fox17online.com