AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A Columbia County man is in jail tonight accused of scamming people out of thousands of dollars in home improvement.
“Covington, Georgia. He was at his mother’s house,” said Inv. Matthew Williamson with Grovetown Department of Public Safety when asked where Christopher Alday was arrested.
That’s about an hour and a half from his Grovetown home. The 40-year-old was taken into custody Saturday, wanted for theft by conversion of payments for real property improvements. Investigator Williamson, who chose to talk off camera due to the nature of his work, told us the felony charge comes after Alday allegedly took more than $10,000 in home improvement money for jobs he never completed.
“Some were $400, some were $2800, $1400, $1300. The most is $2800,” he said of the cases he’s been learning about all week.
Grovetown Department of Public Safety took to Facebook to locate Alday, showing photos of him and the truck they thought he was driving. They learned from dozens of victims reporting in Grovetown and in Richmond and Columbia Counties, that he allegedly scheduled work under Alday Handyman Services and received partial payment for some jobs, claiming the need to pick up materials out of town.
But investigator Williamson said that’s not what his bank statements showed.
He added, “I wanted proof that he purchased this material in Columbia. He finally claimed that he did not purchase it in Columbia and he just tells his customers that to buy time. He said that he purchased it at the Bobby Jones Walmart. That was a lie.”
She wants to protect her identity, but Megan Gautreaux told NewsChannel 6 she found Alday on the Facebook group Connect Augusta in April.
“Looked through the reviews. All of them were five stars,” she said. “Nothing wrong with any of the work that he did.”
After he assured her he was licensed and insured, she hired him to install a fence in her backyard for her dog and paid him $405. But he fed her the materials story among other ones too.
Gautreaux also said, “He said that his crew and himself were very sick. Of course, I sympathized and said I hope you feel better, just keep me updated. The following week after, he again told me he was in the hospital on EKGs.”
While Gautreaux must wait on this case to play out in court to get her money back, she and investigators hope no one else falls prey to someone like Alday.
“Definitely look for insurance. If they have a license,” Lt. Allison Foster with Grovetown’s Criminal Investigation Division told us, adding that Alday had a Columbia County issued business license with a number and insurance at the time of the jobs. “If they’re asking for 50 percent up front, that’s definitely a red flag.” Lt. Foster added that it is best to do a Google search and use word of mouth too in order to save yourself money.
Inv. Williamson added one more tip. Do not accept money back from someone you believe may have scammed you. If you do, it becomes a civil matter and you will need to sue that person in court instead of have them arrested. Williamson said that is why he advised Gautreaux not to accept any payment back from Alday.
Alday remains in jail on a $5100 bond.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps