Riverton family offers warning after contractor takes payment but doesn’t complete job

RIVERTON, Utah -- Nearly three months after paying a contractor to work in their backyard, a Riverton family says he's still never come back to finish what he started.

"There's this funny saying in construction that says, 'one nail, no jail,'" said Brianne Dobson, who claims she and her husband paid someone $1,000 for work he never did.

"If the contractor leaves tools behind, it somehow signals intent to complete the job," she explains further.

Dobson said she went to Unified Police for help, and was told that since the work was started, pursuing criminal action wasn't likely: a fact that was confirmed by police Thursday afternoon.

Dobson said they moved into their new home last summer and were excited to make some improvements to the backyard. Mainly, they wanted to extend their concrete patio about 3 feet in each direction and replace some wooden steps with concrete steps in the area leading from the back door to the patio.

She said she looked online for contractors and shuffled through a number of possibilities on Facebook, and, ultimately, got three different quotes. However, one bid, Harley Dew's quote, stood out.

"He said whatever your lowest bid is, I'll beat it," she said.

Dobson admits it could have been a red flag, but said the pricing difference wasn't much lower than the other bids. She said she and her husband had planned to pay by credit card to be safe, but when Dew arrived, he said he could only take cash or check.

Dobson said Dew did a couple hours of demolition work on two occasions after taking a $400 deposit; however, at the end of the second visit, he said he needed another $600 to pay for materials to finish the job. Dobson said Dew cashed both checks, but they never saw him again.

"It was one excuse after another," Dobson said of her text message exchanges that ensued. "He said he had an ATV accident, gallbladder issues, his sister-in-law is having a baby, the weather, a multitude of things," she said.

After three months of back and forth, Dobson said she gave him an ultimatum: either finish the job or she would seek damages in court. She said he agreed to come the next day, but never showed up.

"I'm upset, definitely have some anger," Dobson said.

Dobson said she did some more searching online and found a Facebook page titled "Individuals Scammed By Harley Dew." She said she exchanged messages with at least two other people who claimed to be victims.

One said, "She got taken for $2700."

Without criminal charges looming, Dobson said she was told civil court was her best option. She said that will be difficult without knowing Harley's address.

"More than anything, I hope he won't be able to do this again," Dobson said.

She hopes being put under the spotlight may keep Harley Dew from doing the same thing again.