WAXHAW, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A home building website that promoted Randy Briel, a contractor who has been arrested at least 13 times for stealing money from customers, has removed all of his ads following a series of FOX 46 investigations.
FOX 46 alerted Porch.com to our investigations and sent a list of more than two dozen company names, compiled by the Better Business Bureau, that has been used by Briel. The company also removed the ads for his salesman, Glenn Dunnam, who works for Briel, according to the BBB, customers, and contracts shown to FOX 46.
"We have previously removed a handful of profiles from our system to ensure that homeowners do not have on-going experiences with this individual," said spokeswoman Ashley Jude. "We have also reviewed the list you shared to ensure that there are no additional active profiles."
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says his office is investigating both Briel and Dunnam.
"Glenn was the sales person who came out with [Briel]," said Dawn Jones, who paid Briel $15,000 to build her a $30,000 porch and fireplace. She found FOX 46's reports before she paid him the other half.
"It's sickening," she said.
Briel has spent time in prison. For years the unlicensed contractor has been accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers by not doing the job he is hired to do.
His associate, Dunnam, had advertised his company as Carolina Contracting and Consulting before Porch.com removed the ad after being alerted by FOX 46. That company name is one of more than two dozen used as by Briel, according to the BBB, which compiled a list.
The BBB has received more than 100 complaints against Briel.
Porch.com says their pros are background checked. But Jason Kemp, the general manager of Armstrong Construction, who advertises on Porch, says that's not the case.
"Their screening process is very limited," said Kemp. "It's a matter of a phone call, they go on to a website, if you have a website, to see if it's real. That's about the limit to their screening process."
"It's more of how much money do you spend with them to advertise for your company," he said.
Kemp says he was also a "Super Service Award" winner for 10 years on Angie's List.
"We had to buy that award," he said.
Kemp says the more money he gave Angie's List the higher up his ads appeared in searches.
"We were no longer being rated by our reviews," he said. "We were being rated by how much money we gave them every single month."
That is a concern to homeowners who use these websites to find contractors they believe are recommended based on unbiased reviews, Kemp said.
Angie's List did not respond to requests for comment. Porch.com says it does not charge its pros for better search results.
As for Jones, she wants a judge to put a stop to Briel.
"Really do your research in who you trust," she said.
Our team has investigated and we can confirm that this individual did create accounts on Porch. We previously removed a handful of profiles from our system to ensure that homeowners do not have on-going experiences with this individual. We have also reviewed the list that you shared to ensure that there are no additional active profiles.
Porch has worked through solutions to block individuals from creating fraudulent accounts. Unfortunately, when someone is an expert they often find ways to work the system. In addition, we haev supported Porch customers who had interactions with the profile listed as Decks, Patio and Porches through our Porch Property Protection Guarantee in situations where the company took a deposit and did not start any work.
Porch offers customer two ways to engage with a professional, through the Porch Pro Network or through Porch Services. Ultimately, the hiring decision falls to the homeowner. With Porch Services, Porch books and fulfills services with a team of background checked and quality-monitored pros who operate in more than 100 markets nationwide.
Porch does not charge pros extra for enhanced search result placement or special access to homeowners. Porch leverages reviews as a key attribute in search. We maintain strict review guidelines and provide users the ability to report reviews.
When a homeowner is interested in being introduced to a pro within our Porch Pro Network, we distribute that service request to pros in the form of a lead. The homeowner is not required to hire any pro.
We value homeowner feedback and maintain a team that handles quality of experience concerns to ensure we are pursuing improvements as part of our overall company roadmap."