Kamloops residents say contractor scammed them thousands

By Adam Donnelly
March 14, 2017 - 6:00pm Updated: March 15, 2017 - 5:12am

KAMLOOPS — Several families in Kamloops are speaking out tonight, after they said they are being hung out to dry by a local contractor. They all hired the same man to do renovations to their homes and all say they have  been left in a lurch. They say the work the contractor agreed on was either not completed or was completed incorrectly and several homes have been left in a state of disrepair. The homeowners, some who say they have lost tens of thousands of dollars, are coming forward in the hopes of preventing a similar scam from happening to anyone else.

WATCH: Full report by Adam Donnelly

Felisha Martin and Spencer Yu were hoping to have the renovations of the basement suite in their home completed by March 15th. The contractor they hired assured them the suite would be move-in ready by now.

“We’d seen his work, we’d called references and we actually knew people he had done work for,” Martin told CFJC Today. “We thought we’d checked all our bases, but we were very wrong.”

The couple hired KJ’s Whole Home Renovations for the job, a company operated by Jason and Kelly McDowell.

“[He] gave us so much confidence to hand over more money.  In hindsight, way too much money,” Martin said. “Just so gung-ho to make everything perfect for us.”

That enthusiasm quickly faded after McDowell had taken Spencer and Felisha’s money - $58,000 to be exact, for a variety of jobs.

“$10,000 worth of windows and installation that we gave him money for,” was just one example Felisha gave; the windows never materialisedd. “There was excuse after excuse saying ‘Oh, they’re delayed. They had 31 orders in six days, they’ll be here in another week…’ But when you call the window company, those things don’t exist; they weren’t ordered, they weren’t paid for.”

After repeatedly asking McDowell for receipts and proof work was progressing, one of McDowell’s subcontractors tipped her off to others who had hired him to do some work, and were now in a similar situation, awaiting completion of their projects.

"He came, he gave me a really fair and reasonable estimate. Quite detailed, actually,” Shelaigh Garson explained. She hired McDowell for around $12,000 to complete the renovation of her basement, but has since severed that connection, as she says much of the work has been done incorrectly.

Satish Vhardwaj also hired McDowell, to complete the renovations in a salon he plans to open in Columbia Square. After months of back and forth with very little progress, Vhardwaj was forced to end the relationship, and bring in other contractors to rectify the work McDowell had completed.

“I’ve bought equipment… I’m paying rent… I’ve paid to somebody that $30,000, which I don’t know if I’ll get back. For me, it[’s been] very hard,” Vhardwaj says.

CFJC News contacted McDowell for a comment. He responded via text message, saying the people we spoke with are “devious” and “ have only given us part of the story.”  As of our deadline, he did not make himself available for an interview.

For Felisha Martin and Spencer Yu, they say they plan to take civil action to try and recoup their money from McDowell, but feel betrayed by a man they trusted.

“It’s absolutely heart-wrenching to have someone in our community that’s doing this to… honest, hard-working people,” Yu said.

They now hope to spread the word about their situation, so no one else has to live this nightmare.

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