• Changing business names can cause problems for consumers


    None - Eyewitness News found two local contractors who have changed the names of their business more than a dozen times each.

    When Bill Hayes owned one house two years ago, he said he paid contractor Randy Briel $3,000 for landscape work that Briel never finished.

    Unknown to him at the time, Briel had changed his business name 16 times over six years -- and racked up 29 complaints with the BBB.

    Ed Taylor can relate to Hayes' plight. He said he, too, lost thousands of dollars three years ago to a different contractor for a roof that wasn't finished.

    That contractor was James Spangler. He'd been in and out of jail for taking money and not doing work.

    Spangler operated under 14 business names. Last year, he was convicted in Union County and sentenced to 15 months for obtaining property under false pretense.

    Briel was convicted for the same thing, also in Union County, and served 10 months. He's now in York County serving time on breach of trust charges.

    Before going to prison, Briel and Spangler changed their business names a total 30 times between them, and their addresses 29 times. That's the most by far of any contractors in the BBB's files.

    That would certainly make it hard for customers to find them, which Eyewitness News saw firsthand while going to some of those 29 addresses.

    One of Briel's addresses took Channel 9 to a posh subdivision with homes costing close to a million dollars.

    It’s not against the law for contractors to change their names and addresses over and over.

    North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper wants stronger laws to stop those who do it with the intent of evading their customers.

    “We see these criminals oftentimes use names to protect their own reputation when really they're out to cheat people,” Cooper said.

    Cooper says to protect yourself by checking out contractors online. Do a Google search not just of the business name, but also of the owner's name, and check with the BBB.

    BBB President Tom Bartholomy said they've gotten 47 new inquiries on James Spangler, who just got out of prison.

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