ABC 17 News has an update to a story our crews reported back in 2011. Prosecutors have now charged a Columbia man for his role in a contracting scam.Joshua Whitlock allegedly swindled thousands of dollars from people after promising to complete remodeling work and he has a history of scamming people. Whitlock was on probation for a similar scamming-type crime in Illinois before he allegedly scammed someone in Boone County. More than a year after that scam, authorities in Las Vegas found Whitlock and arrested him.”It was in May of 2011 when it came to our attention that a home owner on Billy Jean Drive had given Mr. Whitlock almost $17 thousand dollars,” said Detective Tom O’Sullivan. Whitlock was given the money to complete a Boone County man’s home, however the project was never finished. Authorities spent more than a year searching for Whitlock, finally arresting him a long way from Mid-Missouri. Further investigating showed Whitlock has a history of scamming others in several states. “He told people he believed as long as he did something, he couldn’t be prosecuted,” said O’Sullivan. That’s not the case, authorities said witnesses helped prove Whitlock’s true intent, and describing a very disturbing pattern. “He would get a significant amount of money up front, maybe do very minimal work and then just vanish,” said O’Sullivan.The Better Business Bureau’s Mike Odneal said Whitlock used websites like craigslist to solicit work. He said if you find someone on a website to do work, who does pass a background check, you can also protect yourself by how you handle your money.”Not let all of your money go at once, really get a contract read it in detail, consult your lawyer, but also dont let go of the money for the job until you see progress on the job,” said Odneal.According to the BBB people need to learn from this scam and triple check who they hire for a job.”Deal in person, go to a show room, go to a location where they’ve done work before, talk to references of people they’ve worked for, actually look for the buildings and the things that they have done,” said Odneal.Whitlock is now in the Boone County Jail on a $50 thousand dollar bond.
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