The prosecutor’s consumer fraud unit identified 25 defrauded customers with nearly $138,000 stolen since the fraud unit received its first complaint in November last year, according to the prosecutor’s office.
A resident responded to a Facebook Marketplace ad for Dixie Fence South and in May 2022 paid a $2,500 down payment; however, six months later the company had not completed any work, delivered any materials nor refunded the money, Heck said.
Fraley was issued a summons to appear for his Dec. 5 arraignment in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court for four counts of grand theft; five counts of theft of an elderly/disabled person; and 16 counts of theft, all felony charges.
“Before hiring a contractor, you need to research them thoroughly. Always ask for references from those they have done work for recently. Also, never pay cash up front, and it’s a good idea to never put down more than one-third of the project cost. This defendant stole from more than two dozen victims but will now be held accountable for his actions,” Heck said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in February filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County against Dixie Fence South and Fraley for alleged violations of state consumer protection laws. In some cases the business refused to refund deposits or payments; did not perform any work; did not complete jobs; or did not fix shoddy and substandard work, according to the lawsuit.
The civil case has reached a settlement, according to an order to dismiss the case signed last week by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge E. Gerald Parker Jr.
A separate fencing contractor with a similar name, Dixie Fence LLC based in Harrison Twp., has a disclaimer in red on its website alerting customers they are not affiliated with Dixie Fence South.
“We are not the same company,” said owner Jaron Fraley, who earlier this year said he has been negatively affected by undeserved poor reviews and misdirected calls from angry customers aimed at the Germantown-based business operated by a relative.
Jaron Fraley said the Better Business Bureau has been a bright spot in helping him maintain his good reputation. Dixie Fence LLC has an A+ rating with the BBB. When complaints were made, the BBB investigated and assigned them to the correct business, he said.
Dixie Fence South LLC — registered on Jan. 10, 2020, with the Ohio Secretary of State — is not BBB accredited and has an F rating with the organization. The BBB website reports there were 24 complaints, including nine in the past year.