FBI launches website for Summit Contracting victims

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Published: Dec. 17, 2019 at 8:48 AM CST
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If you're a victim of Summit Contracting, the federal government wants to hear your story.

Tuesday, the FBI in Milwaukee launched a website specifically to hear from victims, customers, witnesses and employees of De Pere-based Summit Contracting.

The website is

.

People are being asked to submit their information to this website even if they reported the contractor to another agency, such as the local sheriff's department or the Better Business Bureau.

As we first reported in a First Alert Investigation, area law enforcement and consumer protection agencies have been receiving complaints from property owners saying Summit Contracting withdrew all the funds for the project before the work wasn't completed -- and in many cases, the work wasn't finished or wasn't done satisfactorily.

In stories we've reported, there have been victims all over Northeast Wisconsin and now in the Upper Peninsula, as well.

First Alert Investigations found open criminal investigations in Marinette County, Brown County, and Manitowoc County. They were specifically looking into contractor fraud and theft--a felony when more than $2,500 is involved.

Complaints have also been filed with the state consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau.

With all those disparate agencies receiving reports from victims, the FBI created a single website for anyone who might have suffered damages to report their case to help build an indictment against Summit Contracting and its owners.

Investigators want to know how you heard about Summit, whether you signed a contract, who you dealt with, the cost of your project, whether it was completed, and how you paid for it.

The questionnaire is confidential, but the FBI may contact people who submit information. "Your responses are voluntary, but would be useful in the federal investigation," the FBI wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Over the last two months of our First Alert Investigates reporting, we've had calls or emails from former employees or subcontractors asking how to get paid for work you told us you did for Summit but no paycheck ever came.

One wrote, "I am a previous commission-based employee that has had over $10,000 stolen by this fraudulent company. There are many of us that had many tens of thousands of our earnings stolen."

Another claimed, "Paychecks were consistently wrong every week. They would switch the way they pay without telling anyone, causing people to miss automatic payments unknowingly."

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development tells us any employees or subcontractors who believe they are owed money for back wages or prior work can file a claim with the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division.

for that website.

It will ask for specific information and request any documentation you have to show the work but no pay.

The state's website says it could take months to complete an investigation.

If you don't want to wait, small claims court is also an option.

The United States filed a complaint late last month seeking a civil injunction against the business and owners Chad Schampers and Nathaniel Smith alleging wire fraud and banking law violations.

to read the complaint for an injunction.

Action 2 News spent months looking into Summit Contracting after customers reached out to us for help in getting their money back. In October, our investigation broke news that the company was under criminal investigation for fraud after dozens of customers filed complaints with local and state authorities.

for the full story.

The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that Schampers and Smith have "conducted a fraudulent scheme that induces customers to finance construction projects, often by misrepresenting the terms of the financing offered."

The complaint reads, "As alleged, once the projects are approved for financing, defendants fully withdraw the funds for the project from the financing company before Summit completes (or in some instances, even commences) its work by making false statements to financing companies that the work has already been completed."

A former employee told investigators, "We [Summit sales representatives] were instructed not to leave the [customer’s] house without the final signature from the customer saying the work was complete.

"The customer would think they were signing for the financing, but instead they were signing to the [financing company] that the work was complete. No person in their right mind would sign saying the work was complete when the sales person was still in their living room. Chad and Nate made it very clear that the sales team had to sell in ‘one sit’ [i.e., a single meeting], never speak to a customer a second time, and get that final signature [ . . . ] When I would leave the customer’s house I would

never talk to them again. The customer would get a copy of the Summit paperwork and nothing from the finance company."

Summit Contracting's Better Business Bureau profile says it has been in business since 2009. Action 2 News filed records with the state and found out the company was registered in September of 2018. That's one month before the BBB says it received its first complaint about Summit Contracting.

The company is also accused of using high pressure, deceptive sales techniques and of making false statement about Summit services to draw in a possible customer.