Warren allegedly took prepayments totaling nearly $160,000 from five couples in Calgary and Okotoks between October 2011 and June 2012 for home renovations that were never completed.
“Contractors who take advantage of honest, hard-working Albertans should be forewarned that this government has strict consumer protection rules and we will enforce them to the full extent of the law.”
Warren also allegedly operated as a prepaid contractor without the required provincial licence, misled consumers about the date work would be completed, failed to use contracts that met legislated requirements, and failed to refund consumers.
Service Alberta charged Warren under the Criminal Code with two counts of fraud under $5,000 and two counts of theft under $5,000.
Warren; a numbered corporation, 1587915 Alberta Inc. (operating as Kreate); and Greta Warren, who is listed as director of the company, each also face the following charges under the Fair Trading Act:
- five counts of operating without a prepaid contractor licence;
- five counts of failing to provide a contract that complies with provincial legislation;
- five counts of failing to refund consumers within 15 days of the consumer cancelling the contract;
- five counts of misleading a consumer;
- five counts of misrepresenting when goods or services would be supplied; and,
- one count of failing to provide a copy of the signed contract to the consumer.
Warren is scheduled to appear November 18 in Okotoks provincial court and November 21 in Calgary provincial court.
Penalties under the Fair Trading Act include a maximum fine of $300,000, or three times the amount obtained in the offence - whichever is greater - and up to two years in jail.
Dealing with Prepaid Contractors
Contractors who take payment before the work is complete and who look for work, discuss or finalize a contract away from a regular place of business must be licensed by Service Alberta and post a security. They must use a contract that includes an itemized price list, completion date and a statement of consumers’ cancellation rights.
Consumers can cancel within 10 days of receiving a prepaid contract, and up to one year if the prepaid contractor is not licensed or is using a contract that does not meet legislated requirements. The business must provide a refund within 15 days of cancellation.
Strong enforcement and tougher laws are part of the government’s plan to protect Alberta homeowners. In the past year the Alberta has put new administrative penalties in place, raised the maximum court fine, and conducted undercover sting operations targeting unlicensed prepaid contractors and home inspectors.