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NBC 10 I-Team: Contractor allegedly preys on elderly

A Wakefield woman says she was charged $9,000 to pave he driveway.

It was an offer Marjorie DeGrace couldn't refuse. A contractor approached the 77-year-old woman in her Wakefield yard.{}

"He told me he had leftover asphalt on his truck, that they were doing work up the street and he had to get rid of it," the woman said.{} "He said they usually charge $9 a square foot but he would give it to me for $3 a square foot.{} It sounded good, especially since the driveway was in really bad shape. I did think I was getting a deal."

Two hours later the job was finished, but DeGrace was stuck with one massive bill for $9,000.

"They wanted the money right away, they said it was 3,000 square feet. It seemed an awful lot. That was no bargain. It took me off my feet," said DeGrace.

She said she felt obligated and paid the company. Her daughter called the NBC 10 I-Team.

After a search of state records, the I-Team found complaint after complaint filed with the Rhode Island Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board, naming the company that paved Marjorie's driveway, MTY Paving, its owner, Mark Young, and his associate, Jason Perry.{}

The list is long: negligent work, contract disputes, and excessive charges.

"Just during the month of early May we received four claims within a two-day time span, which is very unusual. When you see activity like that you know something is going on," said executive director of the board, George Whalen.

Whalen took unprecedented action by revoking MTY's registration for the "health, welfare, and safety of the general public," according to the report.{}

"It's probably one of the few times in the history of the 25 years that the board has been in existence that I had to take and use emergency measures and act on that contractors registration," added Whalen.

That was in May, but the I-Team found MTY is still working and soliciting business online. A Craigslist ad was posted in June. They also continue to knock on the doors of senior citizens.

A 90-year-old World War II veteran from Smithfield paid MTY $3,500 after its registration was revoked.{} The I-Team obtained the police report his son filed against the company, which said his father thought he was being scammed.

The I-Team had a legitimate paving company measure Marjorie's driveway. The legit company said the driveway measured 1,800 square feet, not 3,000. And the paving was a $3,000 job. MTY charged the 77-year-old $9,000, three times what the work was worth.{}

"I really felt, how stupid I was," said DeGrace.

MTY's owner Mark Young didn't want to answer questions when the NBC 10 I-Team approached him to ask about his company's business practices.{}

"Talk to my lawyer," mumbled Young while walking into his East Providence home.

He never provided his lawyer's contact information and had just exited a pickup truck that retails for about $50,000. And his associate, Jason Perry, denied he was even in business with Young and told the I-Team over the phone he wasn't paving driveways.{}

"How did you get my phone number?" he asked, not realizing his name and number are posted on Craigslist ads.{}

When asked why then customers are writing checks to Perry, the East Providence man abruptly hung up the phone.

There are a number of protective measures consumers can take when dealing with contractors.{} Contracts should always be in writing and insurance should be updated.{} Ask for both.{}

Go to the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board's website at www.crb.ri.gov to check whether a contractor has any prior or pending complaints and the nature of the complaints.{}

If you're not tech savvy, call them at 401-222-1270 and they can give you the information over the phone.

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