GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Several people are accusing the same man of running off with their money after agreeing to do work on homes or businesses.
Thirty-two-year-old Jeffery Scott TenElshof II, who goes by Scott, is the owner of Four Seasons Construction, LLC. — formerly Scooters Construction. In addition to an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau, which cites eight complaints, TenElshof has been the target of at least six different lawsuits for alleged monies owed.
One such complaint against the unlicensed contractor was filed by Sarah and Jaime McCauley, newlyweds who recently bought a foreclosed home in Grand Rapids.
“It was our savings. It was something we saved up for since we bought this place,” said Sarah McCauley in an interview with Target 8. “We just really trusted him.”
The McCauleys wrote TenElshof a $3,500 check to get him started on putting new siding on their home in April.
“He cashed it within like the hour,” Sarah McCauley said.
But that was the last they’d see of any haste from TenElshof. From then on, it was broken promises and apparent lies, the couple said.
Weeks after issuing the check, the McCauleys asked TenElshof for a refund. To date, no refund has been issued and their siding hasn’t been touched.
Target 8 heard a similar story from Elaine Doyle, a mother of five living in Dorr. She used an insurance payout to hire TenElshof to put a new roof on her home and cut him a check for $1,200.
TenElshof did some work, she said, but it was only to her detriment. He took off part of her roof and it appeared he was starting the job. Then he left and never came back.
With no money to hire someone else, Doyle and her fiance put tarps over the exposed roof and went through the frigid 2011-2012 winter hoping it would hold up.
“We needed that money. That was our insurance claim,” said Doyle. “I want to see him pay back everyone who he’s done bad to.”
Doyle’s case got worse when her fiance went to confront TenElshof at his home on Bauer Road in Jenison, which is also the address for his business.
“That’s when he tried getting my fiance arrested for trespassing,” Doyle said.
Ottawa County sheriff’s officials confirmed the trespassing call to TenElshof’s home. The prosecutor never brought criminal charges.
TenElshof is also accused of ripping off two businesses in southeast Grand Rapids that hired him to install heat tape on their roofs. Instead, the owners say, he ran off with some $1,000 between the two of them and hasn’t come back to do the work.
Eric Fox hired Tenelshof to work on his northwest Grand Rapids home. He made a $1,500 payment to TenElshof. He too claims the contractor disappeared without doing any work. And he too has filed a lawsuit to try and get his money back.
The ripoff allegations against TenElshof all surfaced after he was released from prison following a criminal sexual conduct conviction out of Ottawa County for sexually assaulting a young teen girl. He was arrested in 2004 on that charge.
Reached by phone, TenElshof said he would do an interview with Target 8. But much like some of his clients are claiming he did to them, TenElshof had excuses and was never able to set up a meeting with a Target 8 reporter.
In one instance, TenElshof agreed to meet a Target 8 crew at a site where he claimed he was doing work. He claimed the site was near 6 Mile Road and the East Beltline. It didn’t take much investigating to find that the two roads do not intersect.
It took an unannounced visit from Target 8 to TenElshof’s business and home to get an opportunity to question him about the allegations. He was outside as a reporter approached him.
When asked what happened to his alleged victims’ money, TenElshof seemed to be oblivious to the idea that there was a problem.
“What people’s?” he asked.
TenElshof had excuses for all of the clients in this report — always blaming someone or something else. He said he has done nothing wrong.
“I go to work every day and bust my a** every day to provide for my family, to do my best every day for these homeowners that need our services,” TenElshof said.
He says he doesn’t recall any dealings with Elaine Doyle and denies starting a job and leaving it unfinished. Questions about the police call regarding her husband on his property purportedly didn’t refresh his memory.
“I don’t even know who Elaine Doyle is,” TenElshof insisted.
As for the McCauleys, TenElshof said the delay in getting a refund to them was because he had to return supplies he was going to use for their siding.
TenElshof named the company where he said the supplies for the McCauley home were purchased, but Target 8 has learned through a source that no purchase or refund of the sort has been made in TenElshof’s name in 2014.
He explained away the concern that he may be breaking the law by contracting for siding and roofing work without a state-issued license, claiming has a licensed contractor on his staff.
“It’s somebody that we do business with,” TenElshof said, declining to reveal the contractor’s identity. “I’m not gonna put a name out there.”
Lawsuits accuse TenElshof of multiple misdeeds. Some were filed by those who claim they did work for him and did not get paid.
One suit was filed by Huntington Bank claiming that TenElshof put empty envelopes into an ATM claiming they were deposits. He overdrew his account and the bank sued him to get its money back.
In another case, the attorney who represented TenElshof in a more than $10,000 lawsuit against him later sued him for more than $1,500 in attorney’s fees that the attorney claims he owed but failed to pay.
Concerns about TenElshof extend through his immediate family. His wife told Target 8 that she tries to stay out of his business affairs.
But TenElshof’s father — also named Jeffery Scott TenElshof — hasn’t been able to do the same. In a case of mistaken identity, creditors attempted to seize the senior TenElshof’s property to recover monies awarded to a company that had sued his son and won.
Eventually, the elder TenElshof was able to get his name removed from the judgment, but only after hiring an attorney to help dispute the matter.
“I wonder what he’s doing,” Margaret TenElshof said of her stepson Scott. “Unfortunately, I think he’s gone down a wrong way.”
Alleged victims say they hope they eventually get their money back from TenElshof. But more importantly, they hope he’s not allowed to strike again.
“We just don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” said Sarah McCauley.
During the 20-minute-or-so interview with TenElshof, he said he has a myriad of satisfied customers, though he declined to reveal any of their names. He blamed some of the claims against him on misunderstandings and others on a disgruntled ex-wife.
“Are you the unluckiest man in the world?” Target 8 asked.
“Sometimes I feel like I am,” TenElshof said.
Grand Rapids police have launched an investigation into TenElshof following a complaint from the McCauleys.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department also confirmed that it is cooperating with police in Battle Creek, who suspect that TenElshof was involved in the theft of large construction equipment.
The lawsuits filed by McCauley and Fox are expected to be heard in a Grand Rapids courtroom in mid-June.