CLARK CO., Wash. (KOIN) — Looking for help restoring that classic car sitting in your garage? Be careful who you hire, or you could find yourself out of thousands of dollars just like many other people in the Pacific Northwest.
KOIN 6 News spoke to 8 victims who suffered a combined loss of more than $85,000 after responding to a Vancouver couple’s Craigslist ad for restoration body work.
Josh Evans and his wife Kathleen Householder promise they’ve been restoring cars their whole lives. The pair claims they treat each car as if it were their own, which was important to Bob Sorensen who trusted them with his beloved 1955 Ford pickup.
“This is something I drove around in high school,” he said. “It’s precious to me.”
Carl Lange was also looking for someone trustworthy to restore his 1950 2-door Chevy Deluxe when he hired Evans and Householder. But things didn’t go according to plan. He went to Clark County court and was awarded a $52,000 judgment.
Another victim, Steve Johnson, said he was awarded a judgment of $4,100. David Taylor said he’s fortunate he only lost $8,500 during his encounter with the couple.
“He agreed, ‘I owe you $8,500,'” Taylor said. “‘I will meet you at the bank tomorrow and give you the money.’ That never happened and that was the last I saw of him.”
Not one customer told KOIN 6 News they saw their car restored completely.
“He takes cars, destroys them, sells parts,” classic car owner Lewis Cantrell said.
Sorensen said parts would come in and out, then disappear until nothing was left.
Iraq War veteran Kate Fox said she spent several months doing home remodeling work for Householder and Evans, who claimed to be a veteran himself.
“He talked about struggles, being a vet on painkillers,” Fox recalled. “[I] never saw him work on any vehicles in 3 months I was spending days there.”
Many customers who are also veterans said Evans talked about graduating from West Point and serving in Iraq. They said he even showed them the uniforms and medals to prove it, using his stories to gain their trust and get inside their heads and wallets.
“He claims he was shot several times,” Lange said.
Cantrell said Evans even showed him some of his scars.
After trying to reach Evans by phone, KOIN 6 News finally tracked him down. When asked if he was a war hero, he said “no”. He also denied owing anyone money.
Some customers still want to know where their money went, although they say they’re thankful they didn’t lose more. Others say they’re just lucky to have their cars.
“People that are into cars… it’s who they are,” Cantrell said.
At least 7 people have filed complaints with Washington’s attorney general.