Customers of crooked Kamloops contractor still reeling from financial losses | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Customers of crooked Kamloops contractor still reeling from financial losses

Clockwise from back: Satish Bhardwaj, Shelaigh Garson, and Felisha Martin are still reeling from financial losses after being scammed by a local contractor earlier this year.
December 26, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Shelaigh Garson lost thousands after being conned by a local contractor earlier this year, and she and her husband have had to go to extreme lengths just to keep their heads above water after this.

Although they've now started to recover from their losses, it wasn't always that way. When they first lost their money, they knew it was going to be a long road ahead to recuperate and at the time they had real concerns about their finances.

"We've managed but really we (were) barely hanging on," she says. "We're probably one mortgage payment away from defaulting on our loans."

Garson says she went from being nearly mortgage free to being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt after having to redo plenty of work that was incorrectly completed on her property.

She's not the only one who is still reeling from financial losses attributed to shoddy and incomplete work by Jason McDowell.

It's been about nine months since Felisha Martin reached out to with a long list of concerns she and others, including Garson, were having with local contractor Jason McDowell.

READ MORE: Residents warn about crooked Kamloops contractor

She and her husband say they lost approximately $60,000 to McDowell. They gave him a deposit after hiring him to build a tiny house and complete home renovations at another property.

Garson says she lost upwards of $20,000 after hiring McDowell to complete renovations on a home she and her husband were planning on renting out.

Satish Bhardwaj lost at least $30,000 when he hired McDowell to build his new salon in Sahali called Tips and Toes, but says considering how much more money he's had to spend on re-doing McDowell's work, his total losses are likely tens of thousands of dollars more. did a full story on the losses suffered by Martin and Bhardwaj back in March, and although they're happy they've gotten through the situation, things haven't been easy.

"We spent $80,000 on redoing everything and we still have to do (more)," Martin says.

Another unexpected surprise for Martin and her family is her pregnancy. She's expecting to give birth next year, which she says is adding to the stress she and her husband have undergone this year.

"I wasn't supposed to be able to get pregnant. Hello baby," Martin laughs as she holds her stomach. "We're really excited about that but my husband's terrified."

Martin and her husband had a roommate move into their apartment with them to lighten the financial burden. 

For Bhardwaj, his wife, and their year-old baby daughter, sacrifices have become a daily part of their life. The family expected their salon to be opened on Feb. 1 of this year after McDowell was hired. But their business didn't open its doors until May 10, far behind schedule.

After delays in the opening dates caused by incomplete, incorrect, or just a lack of work completed by McDowell, Bhardwaj was out of money. He maxed out his construction budget and he knew it was too late to hire a new company. He and some friends decided to complete the rest of the work themselves.

"Business luckily is doing really good, a lot of word of mouth," Bhardwaj says. "It's actually helping us to maintain that place. If business wouldn't be good we would be done."

Garson, Martin and Bhardwaj have tried to pursue legal action, but they claim the system isn't set up to help people like them. They've had no luck making any headway with the company McDowell was insured under, and the fact that he fell off the radar once they took their stories public makes things harder.

"You need to have money in order to borrow money, you need to have money in order to do anything, so if you are broke nobody's there to help you," Bhardwaj says.

The trio says they can't afford to lose any more money, so there's no way they can feasibly take legal action against McDowell.

"We're done. We're done," Martin says.

For now, the three former customers of McDowell bond over the fact that they didn't have to face their situation alone.

The old phone number belonging to McDowell is now out of service and there's no word on where his last location was. The Better Business Bureau says on its website that one of his companies, Jason's Painting and Landscaping, appears to be out of business.

Kamloops residents allege Jason McDowell swindled them out of thousands of dollars while he worked as a contractor for them.
Kamloops residents allege Jason McDowell swindled them out of thousands of dollars while he worked as a contractor for them.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Brandon Crime Stoppers

— This story was updated at 12:38 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27, to clarify a quote from Shelaigh Garson in the third paragraph of this story.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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