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MEMPHIS, TN -
(WMC-TV) - The first $500 money order cleared the bank.
Jerry Breedlove's making payments and apologies -- after Linda Corti turned him into a website 'wanted poster.'
The Collierville, TN, handy-man has admitted to falsifying invoices to defraud Corti of $3,054.75.
Corti had hired Breedlove to purchase and install 18 recessed lights and their hardware for part of her East Memphis home renovation. Breedlove had performed work on her home before, so Corti said she felt comfortable hiring him again.
Breedlove presented Corti with invoices from Graham's Lighting, 550 S. Cooper St., indicating he bought the equipment. The invoices included a bill for $3,054.75 to cover the cost.
Corti paid the bill.
Then Breedlove stopped returning her calls -- and never returned to do the job.
"So I thought what could I do myself to really...not just necessarily get back at him, but let the community know not to hire him," Corti said.
She actually bought the web rights to his name. "I think it was probably $28 or something," she said.
On her website, she reveals Breedlove falsified the lighting invoices, using photo-shopped fonts that Graham's Lighting does not employ, as well as fake customer order numbers.
The store's manager, Bob Myers, confirmed Breedlove faked the invoices and never bought the equipment. "To use our letterhead and our tickets to perpetrate fraud on a customer is really infuriating," said Myers.
"Yes, sir, I admit that I did that," Breedlove said in a phone interview with The Action News 5 Investigators. He declined our request for an on-camera interview.
"I had a situation that I couldn't control at my house, and I was wrong," he added, "and she'll get payments every week until that there is paid for, sir."
So the first payment has cleared the bank.
But until Corti gets all of her money back, she has Breedlove's name, picture and reputation by the bytes.
Lawyers we consulted said she's taking a tremendous legal risk with the site, particularly in the use of Breedlove's name, image, address and phone number. But they all agreed if Breedlove wanted to sue, he'd have trouble hiring an attorney.
"There isn't a lawyer in this town who would take this case when Breedlove has admitted to committing fraud," said attorney Jeff Rosenblum of Rosenblum & Reisman in Memphis.
Breedlove is not a licensed contractor. The Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors confirmed he's never had a Tennessee contractor's license.
But he would not have been required to carry a contractor's license for Corti's job.
According to the board, a contractor's license is required for projects $25,000 or more when acting as one of the following:
* PRIME CONTRACTOR: bidding or contracting directly with the "owner" of the project for all types of classifications.
* SUBCONTRACTOR: contracting directly with any contractor (not to the owner) to perform:
- Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, HVAC and Roofing
- Masonry subs for projects $100,000 and up (includes all materials, equipment and labor)
* CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT.
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