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Justice won out recently when two Diamondville residents received restitution for the dishonest practices of a traveling asphalt company, thanks to diligent investigation by the Diamondville Police Department.
After prosecution by the Diamondville police and the Wyoming Attorney General’s office in Cheyenne, Sam and Gary Slender, who ran the company known as Slender Asphalt and Roofing, must pay $8,068 to the Diamondville residents they scammed.
They are also not allowed to do business in the state of Wyoming. If the restitution amount is not paid in 18 months, the company could owe up to $35,000 in legal fees to the state of Wyoming.
According to Diamondville Police Chief Mike Thompson, the police received a call in July of 2016 from family members of a Diamondville resident who were concerned about a company taking advantage of their relative.
Several residents heard about the company through advertisements that were faxed to local businesses letting the public know when they would be in town and available for work.
The first job the Slender Asphalt company did in Diamondville was a paving job for $2400. They had no business license with the town and were not registered with the Wyoming Secretary of State or Department of Revenue.
After doing a paving job for an elderly Diamondville citizen, the company tried to say she needed work done on their roof, even though it was a metal roof. That was when concerned family members called the police.
Another Diamondville resident contacted the company for a quote on a roof job, and the company proceeded to do the job without approval by the homeowner. They did a poor, uneven job that would eventually need to be replaced.
The Diamondville police originally charged the company with destruction of property and operating without a business license.
The case was then forwarded to the Wyoming Attorney General’s office in Cheyenne.
“It’s not very often these cases get anywhere, so this was a significant win,” Chief Thompson said. “The state is concerned because apparently a lot of Wyoming residents are victims of these kinds of scams.”
Chief Thompson said the company claimed to be “locally owned and operated,” but they were doing business out of at least five different states. The company’s only legitimate business certificate was based out of California.
According to Chief Thompson, the police department and state investigators discovered that the employees had drivers’ licenses in Oregon, their equipment was registered in Idaho and they were headed to Utah once they left Wyoming.
The employees of Slender Asphalt were taking advantage of Wyoming residents by using several loopholes. If a business is operating in the state for less than 30 days, they don’t have to post a bond with the Wyoming Department of Revenue.
“The property damage would’ve been a felony amount, but the case was prosecuted as a civil case through the attorney general’s office,” Chief Thompson said.
Chief Thompson offered advice for citizens to protect themselves from these types of scams.
“Nowadays, if someone is coming to you soliciting for business, that’s a red flag,” Chief Thompson said. “If you haven’t heard of them and they aren’t from the community, check them out.”
“All the communities around here require business licenses, so ask around and let the town governments check them out before you let them do any work,” Chief Thompson said.
Thompson also said that a tricky part of this case, but one that made the company even more fishy, was that on all of their advertisements and business cards, they didn’t list actual physical addresses, just phone numbers.
“Any physical address listed was actually a PO Box or a UPS store, so nothing that someone could go back to if they had a problem with the job later,” Chief Thompson said. “That’s a cue that the public should take notice of.”
Thompson said being aware is very important for citizens who want to avoid being scammed by these companies.
“Pay attention to the names of companies doing construction on the highways,” Chief Thompson said. “If someone says they have extra materials from those projects and they’re not with one of those companies, check it out. Talk with businesses that have had projects done to verify certain companies and get local recommendations.”
“Tourism season is in full swing, so be vigilant and aware of strangers around town,” Chief Thompson said. “Do your homework and keep up with the latest scams. Stay educated.”
Chief Thompson said that the Diamondville Police Department have notified Evanston, governments in Platte County, and other states such as Oregon and Washington, who have flagged the individuals and their company as potentially fraudulent.