Saskatchewan

Regina renovation fraudster admits he took money, didn't complete promised work

Rod Gross, a Regina man convicted of defrauding four people in renovation scams, is once again facing accusations and a barrage of criticism from alleged victims.

Rod Gross called out by alleged victims on Facebook

Rodney Peter Gross is facing new accusations of taking money for renovation contracts and not doing the work five years after he was convicted of similar offences. (CBC)

A Regina man convicted of defrauding four people in renovation scams is once again facing accusations and a barrage of criticism from alleged victims.

Rod Gross has a history of defrauding people by taking deposits for contract work he doesn't end up completing.

Kris Davis said earlier this year he paid Gross a $2,650 deposit for new windows, but the work was never started.  

"I didn't think that somebody would come in and just lie and then take all their money and just expect to walk away with it," said Davis. 

Kris Davis, who owns a home in north Regina, told CBC's iTeam he paid Rod Gross $2,650 for window installation work that he says was never completed. (CBC)
"And I think that's what happened to me."

Back in February, Davis hired Gross to replace three windows in his home after finding his ad on Kijiji. He said Gross seemed knowledgeable and trustworthy.

"He had a pile of work orders from other people — the same contracts that I got," Davis explained.  

"He had manufacturers booklets. He came in with work clothes on. He was just the real deal and we bought into it."

Davis said Gross's quote was the lowest he received, and the contractor promised to get the work done in a timely way. Gross even committed to an install date, so Davis decided to hire him.

He said he paid almost half of the $3,350 quote up front and in cash. And then he paid more after Gross showed him paperwork, which appeared to confirm he had ordered and paid for the windows from an Alberta manufacturer. 

But after receiving $2,650 in payments, Davis said Gross didn't show up on the scheduled install date. 

The contract Rod Gross drafted for Kris Davis and his wife when they hired him to replace three windows in their home in April. (CBC)
"We talked to him around April and then he said he got sick. That's understandable. We gave him another week or two and then next thing I know his phone is disconnected." 

Davis said he started to panic. He contacted the Alberta window manufacturer and asked them to look up the paperwork Gross had given him. 

"And he emailed back and said 'yeah that's our logo but that's not the way any of our invoicing is done,'" Davis said. "And that's how 100 per cent I knew we were done in that time." 

Davis takes to Facebook to fight back

Kris Davis said after Rod Gross failed to pay back his money or complete the work, he outed Gross on Facebook. The post got more than 1,300 shares. (CBC)
Davis said he spoke with the province's consumer protection office and the Regina Police Service. He was told he'd likely have to pursue the matter in small claims court. 

In order to track him down, he called out Gross on Facebook, posting details of what happened. 

"I wasn't going to roll over and let someone take that kind of money from me and walk away with it."

The post was widely shared and Davis said "his (Gross's) sister got connected with me and said, 'here's his phone number. He lost your number. Can you call him?'"

"So I call him and he told me he got sick, his fiance left him, a bunch of other stuff," Davis said. "It was excuse after excuse." 

Another Facebook post was shared more than 1,300 times and Davis said it wasn't long before others started contacting him to say they had similar experiences with Gross. 

Greg Straub was one of them. 

In 2014, he hired Gross to demolish part of his home in Qu'Appelle and replace it with a wrap-around deck, after Straub's girlfriend found Gross's ad for Bizhop Construction & Renovations on UsedRegina.com. 

He said he paid Gross more than $10,000 in installments, but he said only the initial demolition work got done.

Drawings included as part of an original contract Greg Straub says Rod Gross drew up for work on his new deck last year. (CBC)
"He has just taken my money and ran," Straub said. 

Straub said he did some background checks before hiring Gross. He phoned some references that seemed to check out.

But he has concluded he's been taken, and according to his lawyer his legal options aren't promising. 

"The lawyer said, 'a guy like this will never have anything in his name that can be taken by the courts. He will just continue to do this scam.' And then my realization was the only way I would ever get any money back is if he scammed others," Straub said.

CBC's iTeam reaches Rod Gross

CBC's iTeam reached out to Gross by phone, but the person who answered the call said "I think you have the wrong number" and insisted the phone didn't belong to Rod Gross. 

When he realized it was CBC calling he hung up. 

CBC called back. The voicemail said "Hi, you have reached Rod." The iTeam left a message and shortly after, Gross called back. 

As soon as I have the money I will give it to him.- Rod Gross

"It's true what they say. You guys are like insects," Gross said, speaking of the media. 

"Creepin' around, getting in people's shoe's. All kinds of weird stuff." 

Gross acknowledged he had been paid by Davis and hadn't done the work. He said that's because he'd been in the hospital for months.

"I just about died and I had to get brought back three times. So I mean as soon as I got out, I contacted him," Gross said. 

"As soon as I have the money I will give it to him." 

Gross admitted he created a document that appeared to be an invoice for a window manufacturer.

However, he said that wasn't deceptive "cause that's where I was going to get the windows from. I didn't order them from there because I didn't have the time. I was hospitalized."

Gross previously convicted of fraud

Rod Gross acknowledged to CBC's iTeam that Davis paid him and he hadn’t done the work, but said that’s because he’d been in the hospital. (CBC)
This isn't the first time Gross has been accused of fraud related to renovation work. 

In 2010, he was convicted of four counts of fraud under $5,000. The court decision says in each case Gross contracted "to do renovations and never completed the job." 

He was given a 12 month conditional sentence, a curfew and ordered to do 50 hours of community service. He was also ordered to take substance abuse programming and to stay away from bars. 

The court also required Gross to pay a total of $6,087 in restitution to his victims.

It's a situation where this guy is knowingly conning people. And he's an excellent person at doing it.- Dorian Hassard, victim of Rod Gross

Dorian Hassard was one of Gross's victims. Back in 2008, he hired the Regina contractor to build a fence and against his better judgement, he paid him up front. 

Gross bought and delivered materials for the fence, but never showed up to build it. 

"It's a situation where this guy is knowingly conning people. And he's an excellent person at doing it," Hassard said. "I don't consider myself to be a stupid person, but he got me." 

"I went through probably several weeks to a couple months of chasing him down." 

Gross was eventually charged and ordered to pay him $1,700 in restitution. Hassard said Gross hasn't paid a dime. 

"I'm surprised the guy's still working," Hassard said. "From my point of view, he's an outright swindler."

'I'll pay these people back,' says contractor

Kris Davis stands in front of his daughter's bedroom window, which he contracted and paid Rod Gross to replace. (CBC)
Gross said he has taken responsibility for the actions that got him convicted.

"I accepted the — yes the guilt —yes I owed the money," Gross said. "But in a lot of those cases, probably 80 per cent of those cases, I had done the work partially, whatever. There was a reason or another that jobs aren't completed." 

He said he still intends to make things right.

"To be honest with you, I figured, you know what, when my life gets back on track I will have some dealings to deal with," Gross said. 

"I'll pay these people back or if they want their work completed then that's fine too."

This guy, for the last two months, has just been wrecking my life. This guy has taken it above and beyond.- Rod Gross

Gross said he is very angry at Davis for his Facebook posts. He said they are slanderous and hurtful. 

"This guy for the last two months has just been wrecking my life," Gross said.

"This guy has taken it above and beyond."

Davis said he's told Gross that there's an easy way to get the Facebook post removed.

"I said 'this will stay up until you repay me. And all I want is to be repaid. And then we will both walk away from this and you won't hear from me ever again. That is it.'" 

He said he's happy that his Facebook posts have drawn attention to Gross and that he hopes they will help prevent others from being taken.

As for Davis, he says he is not optimistic the situation will resolve itself.

"I got no windows. I am going to have to save up more money. I'll just have to start all over again. It took me about five months to save up all that money, so I'll just start back up again and order some new ones in spring, I guess."

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

With files from CBC's Roxanna Woloshyn

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