Scammed by a "friend"

34 Replies

So a college friend asked me to do her a favor. She has a house that she's upside down on here in Virginia. It needed a lot of work done. I fronted the +3k in supplies and labor and got it back up to an inhabitable status. She gave me verbal permission via text. Now she saying that she didn't give permission and she doesn't have that kind of money. But her house is now all fixed up. And I'm out of time and money.


Did you break in to do this work or were they there? Give you a key? Etc?

Can you take much/any of it out?

Hate to say be glad it was only $3k to find out what kind of “friend” you had but I’ve lost more to better “friends”. 

@Maria D. Scott

. Some states like MAryland are a handshake state , verbal agreements are binding
. Take her to small claims court , most states SCC is around 5,000 to 7,000.
. Send her an itemized bill, include your time
. File a mechanics lien on the property , when it's sold (may be years) you will get paid. Include your time.

I can't believe you don't have a text message or an email where you have discussed doing the work.

Any contracts with friends ,family,strangers, or enemies should always be in writing.

Few options. 

    If you did the work put a mechanics lien on the property. 

    Or small claims court 

The end result is you are owed money and as such should be paid.  

Yes, I have several texts and emails stating to please help her. She gave me the key and access to the house from August 7th until yesterday when she sent a cease and desist email to me. Thank you guys for your response. 

I agree with small claims court. It doesn’t cost much and you don’t need a lawyer. Have all your receipts, paperwork, and evidence together. If you keep it concise and have everything you need, I see no reason you shouldn’t win.

Originally posted by @Michael Ablan :

@Maria D. Scott - You may want to chat with an attorney and see if you can lien her house. Never loan money to a friend unless your prepared to never see that money again

 I agree with Michael here.  I am always the "Hardass" but I learned the hard way (so it's not just a clever name...)   You have no friends. At least when it comes to your business or money.  Get it spelled out in writing in the future. 

I would nail her to the wall with those texts.

Gather together whatever proof you have such as before and after photos, receipts for materials, the signed agreement you mention in your text, etc. You have a couple options. One is small claims court and another may be a lien. The lien will attach to the house so you will get paid when she sells it. That could take years, but is probably the easiest way to guarantee you get your money back.

"I'll get docs signed and notarized tomorrow" says the friend.  What docs?  Written like a pro.

The docs signed and notarized I would have got was an exclusive right to purchase option at the pre-improved  market value.  Don't wanna pay for the work? Fine.  I'll exercise my right to buy and you're out.

Well that was a cheap escape! Any "friend" that would dump you over $3k, that's money well spent. In the meantime you can take them to small claims, or see how to put a contractor's lien on the property (usually need a license for that). 

@Steve Vaughan

I did a flip this past year for my mother in law. It made $36k profit. The agreement was to split 2/3 & me 1/3. I didn’t see a penny & actually lost lots of time & money. And yes it’s awkward at family gatherings but it’s even odder to go to small claims court. She did go on to spend $300k in next 6 months on luxury items.

It’s sick, and that’s why I take financial advice from Proverbs & Rich Dad not my mother in law!

@Bill Brandt The house was on the market for a year. She texted me the lock box code to get in and we sent her before and after pics from August 7th through the 19th when she emailed us to leave her house. I'm so frustrated at her dishonesty.

@Mike Cumbie

If family members want to abuse one another like that, that’s there business not mine! I was just the victim along with my contractor & best friend who was hoping to get a third of my share of $12k or a $4k bonus. I paid him a $1000 bonus off of a credit card advance. I also married into $130k in debt (mostly student loans) & had unforeseen medical problems for both my wife & I last year as well as some other things I can’t control like $20k of grad school tuition.

And mother in law has $150k in grad school loans she never finished that she wants forgiven by Bernie so yes I’ll listen to Rich Dad not her & your joke is not funny!

@Maria D. Scott if you have your contractor’s license you may be able to file a mechanic’s lien but not just anybody can do that, you need to be a licensed contractor to do that not just anybody can file a mechanic’s lien I believe, but you could send her written notice that you’re planning to do that to encourage her to pay you. You could try calling a lawyer but for that amount of money you’ll spend more on the lawyer than you lost to your friend, and highly unlikely any lawyer will take something this small on a contingency basis. Small claims court is probably the way to go here, it’s meant for small amounts like this where it doesn’t make sense to involve lawyers, but could be difficult if you weren’t licensed and insured to do the work and don’t have a written agreement. I don’t think a few texts constitutes a written agreement but not sure about that. Next time be sure to have a written contract for something like this! Or get paid up front.

@Maria D. Scott

Just something to watch out for, I know in most states you have to be licensed to collect rent for someone elses. Since she sent a cease and desist it sounds like she is talking to someone and they didn't like your contract.  I would make sure to get an itemized list of what you have done and your costs associated. Hopefully you can get made whole.

Originally posted by @Maria D. Scott :

@Doug Pintarch I have learned. Thanks. I need to practice saying, "I can't".

 It's not easy at all, Maria.  But once you do it emphatically to one friend or relative that's trying to suck off of you it's wonderfully liberating and becomes easier.  Plus when they know you're going to shoot them in the face right away (Figuratively speaking, of course), they end up not even asking you for anything that anyone else doesn't get or pay for.

How savage is this friend?!!! For 3,000? So sorry to hear that 🤗

It could get a little tricky if you go the conventional legal approach because most lawyers might say the case is too "small" for them. Best to gather all the evidence you have: paper, video, and text (I bet you wished you recorded your voice calls too!) and file a case in the mediation or small courts. 

In any case, make sure you get your money back! Be courageous, friend or otherwise!