Contractor accused of paving schemes surfaces on Hilton Head

cfoss@islandpacket.comNovember 14, 2011 

  • If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, call Beaufort County dispatch at 843-524-2777.

    The Sheriff's Office urges residents to be skeptical of those who:

  • Solicit door-to-door. Reputable contractors rarely, if ever, sell this way.

  • Claim they have leftover asphalt from another job.

  • Push you to make a quick decision. Reputable contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. Ask for references, then check them.

  • Fail to offer a contract. You should insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed-upon total price -- not the price per square foot.

  • Insist on a cash-only sale. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards.
  • Get breaking news and story updates about courts, crime and emergency services in southern Beaufort County by following Lowcountry Blotter on Twitter.

A 77-year-old Hilton Head Island man figured it wouldn't cost much to have a few holes in his driveway patched.

It was the morning of Oct. 17 when a contractor rang the doorbell of his Sea Pines home and told him his company had leftover asphalt from a job it had "just finished" and could pave his driveway for half the normal cost, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

The resident, a cancer patient under hospice care, agreed to the job.

No contract was signed. No deposit made.

The resident, who was ill, went inside and fell asleep.

A few hours later, he awoke to find the workers gone and his entire driveway poorly paved -- not patched, as he had expected.

The next day, the contractor, Tommy Clack, returned with a bill for $16,000, the report said. The resident wrote a check that was cashed later that day.

The man's son later told him the cost was too high, the report said.

But it was too late.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said the contractor has a Hilton Head Island business license and has not broken the law locally.

"We can't file criminal charges because the people who have dealt with him have agreed to having the work done," she said. "They're civil disputes."

Senior citizens are often the target, according to the Sheriff's Office. The victims are charged three to four times the usual rate, and the work is poorly done, she said.

It's not the first time Clack, 40, of North Myrtle Beach has been accused of scamming elderly customers.

In June, Clack was arrested in Charleston County on charges from Maryland for theft, operating without a home-improvement license and making false statements to police, according to The (Charleston) Post and Courier.

Clack also has prior swindling charges in Florence County and has been banned from doing paving work in North Carolina.

He is scheduled to appear at Annapolis District Court todayon the charges of operating without a license, according to Maryland court records.

Clack acquired a town of Hilton Head Island business license to operate under the names Beaufort County Asphalt, County Asphalt, and Palmetto Paving on Oct. 13, according to Sheriff's Office reports. Clack also has applied for a county business license, but the application is pending, according to county records.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a Hilton Head Catholic church called the Sheriff's Office after a man matching Clack's description paved a driveway at the church after church officials agreed only to a patch job, McIntosh said.

Instead of patching the driveway, the contractor paved the entire driveway and demanded a higher price, she said.

An argument ensued, and church officials ended up paying half what the contractor demanded.

"People really need to be on the lookout for these types of scams," McIntosh said.

Follow reporter Cassie Foss at twitter.com/LcBlotter.

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