Jacksonville man charged with unlicensed contracting, fraud, grand theft

Darren Lee accused of taking money from customers, not completing work

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man is accused of entering into construction contracts with customers and taking their money without doing jobs he agreed to do, or refunding them. 

Darren Lee was arrested Monday on one count of organized fraud, four counts of grand theft and four counts of unlicensed contracting, according to the State Attorney's Office. 

Police said complaints about Lee, 50, started pouring in between September and November. 

Lee lied to his customers, telling them he was licensed and was employed by WCI, a company he didn't actually work for, investigators said.

He took between $4,000 and $12,000 down payments for work he never started, and even went as far as using the license number for the real WCI Construction to convince customers he was legitimate, according to investigators. 

The State Attorney's Office said Lee set up an office off Philips Highway. Employees at neighboring businesses told News4Jax on Wednesday that the office closed down about four months ago. 

A manager at a nearby office said he's seen multiple customers arrive at the location, looking to get their money back -- only to find the doors looked.

An employee at another next-door office said he once walked into the office to check it out, saying it looked legitimate with various construction displays and never assumed anything was wrong.

Many victims are now asking how they're going to get their money back. If Lee is convicted of the charges, the judge will likely order Lee to pay financial restitution in addition to possible time in prison. 

The Better Business Bureau said it's important people make sure they know who they're hiring when entering into contracts for work around their homes. 

The BBB suggested people get three estimates from various contractors, ask for proof of a license and insurance and do a Google search to find review of their work. 

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