(KTVI) - A Missouri businessman awaiting trial on charges that he stole money from victims of the 2011 Joplin tornado has set up a new company to sell construction leads to roofers and other contractors, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
The BBB is urging potential employees, consumers and businesses to be extremely cautious when dealing with Jeffrey A. Wolfson, Wolfson Company LLC, or 5 Star Contractor Leads, all of Osage Beach, Mo. Wolfson is listed as the registered agent and sole organizer of Wolfson Company, which he registered in December with the Missouri secretary of state.
A St. Louis area job hunter told the BBB that she contacted Wolfson Company earlier this month after noticing an online advertisement for a work-at-home job with the company. She said a Wolfson representative told her the job consisted of making phone calls to generate leads for construction companies.
A website for the company, www.wolfsoncompany.com, says the company offers several marketing services, including lead sales, website development and search engine optimization.
Wolfson has a history with law enforcement that dates back more than 35 years. The Missouri attorney general’s office said Wolfson has been convicted of lying in a federal court case, of bribing a public official in another federal court case and of five counts of fraud in connection with a home remodeling scheme in the St. Louis area. Because of Wolfson’s past, prosecutors in the Joplin case are asking that he be sentenced to an extended term as a persistent offender.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said Jeffrey Wolfson’s past problems in the construction industry are reason for potential employees, subcontractors and customers to be wary of his new business. “Mr. Wolfson’s past warrants serious concerns about whether he can be trusted,” Corey said.
“If you should decide to deal with this company, the BBB suggests that you go into it with your eyes wide open.”
The Joplin charges were filed last year by the Missouri attorney general’s office and the prosecuting attorney’s office in Jasper County, Mo., where Joplin is located. The charges accuse Wolfson of felony fraud, felony stealing and misdemeanor counts of illegally operating without a public adjuster’s license. Those charges involve Wolfson’s role with a company called Insurexx, which took money from Joplin storm victims but did not arrange for repairs. The case is set for trial in October in Joplin.
The BBB previously issued two news alerts on Wolfson. The first, in April 2009, warned that Wolfson had returned to the construction business after he was banned for life from doing home remodeling work. At that time, Wolfson was operating under the name Home Centers America. A 76-year-old woman and her son told the BBB that she had paid Wolfson and Home Centers America more than $17,000 for work that was either poorly done or never completed.
In September 2011, the BBB reported that Wolfson had ties to Homestead Contracting, a company that failed to pay numerous subcontractors for property foreclosure work across the Midwest. The BBB also reported that Wolfson and Gloria Diane Schoeller were tied to Insurexx, a new contracting business from Lebanon, Mo., that was attempting to expand its operations nationwide.
A man identifying himself as Jeffrey Wolfson’s son, Justin Wolfson, returned a BBB phone call to the offices of Wolfson Company. He said that Jeffrey Wolfson was meeting with his attorney out of town and was not immediately available. The man said his father owned Wolfson Company. He said he had no affiliation with his father’s business.
The man said that his father is innocent of the Joplin charges and his father’s criminal record should have “no bearing whatsoever on this new company. There is no issue whatsoever. He is not doing anything wrong.” He also said his father is open about his past. “He discloses this to all of his customers,” the son said.
The BBB suggests that customers of a contracting or lead generation business read all contracts before agreeing to terms. Customers also should investigate any company carefully before doing business with it, including checking for the firm’s BBB Business Review by going to www.bb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.