Kingston man under investigation for multiple undelivered prepaid services
A local company using the name ‘Richardson Services’ is reported to have left dozens of clients without prepaid snow removal services through at least two recent snowstorms.
Multiple allegations have been made on social media that the contractor, who goes by both Jamie and Jeffrey Bock, has collected over $20,000 from local residents and businesses, yet has not provided these pre-negotiated seasonal services. With a few months of winter still to go, tensions are growing; Clients are concerned that refunds will not be made for unrendered services, and many have reported the suspicious behaviour to police.
No ‘Snow Angel’
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Jan. 19, local resident Marc Raven said that he hired Richardson Services to clear snow for his pregnant wife while he is away for work. Raven’s wife reached out to the company through a Facebook ad.
“They had a Facebook site that had been there for a couple of years at least,” said Raven, “and they had [what appeared to be] a fairly well-established presence.” The couple trusted the site and agreed to pay the $450 fee upfront for seasonal snow removal.
Raven’s wife reported that Richardson Services came to their home once. “I think it was the first snowfall in November,” he recalled. “We had paid them in October. And then they didn’t come back after that.”
When yet another storm hit on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, and snow removal teams still had not shown up, Raven became concerned.
After calling the company on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, Raven received a text message in response, he explained.
“I was calling in regards to them not showing up after the storm on January 2. The person [who replied], whether it’s Jeffrey Bock, or Jamie Bock, or Richard Bock, I’m not sure exactly who, said there wasn’t enough snow that day.”
According to Richardson Services’ contracts, snow removal is only to be performed for accumulations greater than two inches. However, according to Environment Canada (weather.gc.ca), the snow accumulation in Kingston on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022 was four inches. That was when Raven started to sense something suspicious was going on.
Richardson Services unreachable
In addition to the alleged lack of snow, Raven reported that Bock told him over text message that “their website had been maliciously reported for inappropriate adult content by an upset customer, and that it was unfair to them. That’s why their website was down. Their Facebook site was also down.” At this point, Raven had lost trust in the company altogether and requested a refund.
“I was told no, it wasn’t possible,” Raven said. Reportedly, Bock tried to reason that this was “because the money from people who paid for the season goes into purchasing equipment.” After this conversation, Raven was no longer able to reach Bock at his phone number, which emitted an “out of service” voice message.
Further suspicious and still without the paid for services, Raven reported the situation to Kingston Police, but was informed that it was classified as a civil dispute regarding a breach of contract, so no police action could be taken. While Kingston Police asserted the same thing to Kingstonist on Wednesday, Jan. 19, further reports and information coming into the local police has resulted in a now open and ongoing investigation, police said on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.
‘He sounded very polite and answered all my questions’
Another resident came forward to speak regarding her experience with Richardson Services. In a phone interview on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, Jamie To said, “When I communicated with him, he sounded very articulate. He sounded very polite. He answered all the questions I had. I asked if he had a proper business, he said yes. And I asked him if he has insurance and he said yes.”
After doing some online research into his company through Yelp and Trusted Pros Reviews, To felt comfortable hiring Bock’s services. She agreed to pay $490 via e-transfer for a double driveway snow removal service. According to To, a snow removal crew only showed up twice.
To said that she reached out to Bock, also after the January 2 snowstorm had passed and her driveway remained uncleared. She reported that Bock responded with, “Yeah, we’re still in business for now. Ha ha.” Although his response was unprofessional, To said that she “felt bad… like I was accusing him of something that wasn’t true. But yeah, it turns out it actually was very true that he was doing this to a lot of people.”
With the dozens of allegations being made over various social media groups, and a text message from Bock to Raven wherein Bock expressed having “just over 135 residential house and 15 commercial apartments and properties,” the possibility of him scamming this many people could very well be true.
‘Having to close down the company and declare bankruptcy’
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, Richardson Services posted a Facebook status stating, “Due to unforeseen circumstances we are having to close down the company and declare bankruptcy. We do appreciate all the strength and support over the years but at this point we are unable to continue.”
The following day, another status was posted saying, “Please do contact us here if you have any questions or issues. We may not be able to do anything but we will try.” There are now multiple replies by customers asking why they have not received the services they paid for, and why they have not been able to contact the company. The queries remain unanswered.
At 12:15 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, Raven received a Facebook message from Richardson Services. The message said, “I understand where everyone is coming from. I will be trying to reach out to everyone in person to see what I can do to fix this and make it better.” He then provided a new private cell phone number.
When contacted at that phone number later the same day, Jamie (also known as Jeffrey) Bock was courteous but brief in his responses. When asked if he has been failing to render pre-negotiated, prepaid services, Bock stated that, “the only snowfall we missed was the last one. And I’m actually in the process of calling all my clients right now.” Given the number of properties Richardson Services is allegedly responsible for, he was also asked how many employees were working for him; he replied, “It’s just me.” This directly contradicts To’s report that Bock claimed to employ over 10 contracting crew members who are typically laid off during the winter season.
When asked why his phone number was out of service, Bock said, “I had a business number and the phone went in the toilet by my three-year-old.” He also claimed that his Facebook page was taken down “because someone reported it for adult content.”
Media and police pressure may be the cause for Bock’s recent reappearance
In response to his recent Facebook post about going out of business, Bock says “the big snowfall happened [on Jan. 17], both snowblowers broke, and then I got a phone call that COVID was hitting a part of my family. Now I’m calling everyone back trying to explain and trying to get back on track[…] I didn’t want anyone getting sick. I didn’t want to get myself sick. I didn’t want to expose myself.”
Bock had no further comments.
Most recent developments
Raven said that he reached out to Bock at his number on the afternoon of January 20 asking for a 50 per cent refund of the amount charged to his spouse. Raven reported that “[Bock] said he couldn’t do that because he didn’t have the money and he needed time to figure out how to get the money.” The 50 per cent Raven was requesting totalled $220, he said.
Raven has since had a “bizarre and revealing” phone conversation with Bock at around 6:45 p.m. the same day, he relayed. During the conversation, Bock contradicted many of his previous statements. Raven stated that the mysterious man now claimed to only have 22 clients and was operating alone with the assistance of his unpaid roommate. Furthermore, Raven reported that Bock’s father, Richardson, has since lent him snow removal equipment and serviced his malfunctioning snow blowers. Yet Bock previously told both Raven and To that his father is deceased and that Bock inherited the business from him. When Raven asked Bock about his address change recorded on two invoices, Bock became “extremely nervous” and didn’t respond to further questioning.
According to the Lennox and Addington Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), at least one complaint has been filed regarding services that were paid for and not carried out in the Amherstview area. However, the OPP said they are not pursuing charges, as it appears this is the case of a business closing down, and therefore a civil matter.
According to the Kingston Police Fraud Unit, multiple complaints have been filed with the local police, and the investigation is ongoing at this time.
‘We just want people to be aware’
“It hurts hearing from people who are like, ‘Hey, I just moved here… I was kind of hoping this wasn’t what Kingston was going to be like.’ That really hurts to hear,” said Raven.
For To, the hope is that, by telling their stories, she and the other ‘victims’ of this situation raise awareness for residents to be careful when hiring online.
“I would like the outcome to be for people to be aware that situations like this happen. So, be careful when you’re hiring contractors of any sort. Apparently these sorts of scams happen all the time, and not just the Kingston area, not just this year,” she said.