How many thousands this contractor overcharged a Henrico woman

Posted at 2:35 AM, Nov 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-05 02:35:23-05

HENRICO, Va. -- It’s exactly what Christiane Benton envisioned for her back yard; an outdoor kitchenette, a moon box, and a pool.

Homeowner Christiane Benton even called the contractor's work, "great, and excellent."

But Benton says her oasis  turned into a real headache. The $17,000 job for the work ended up costing Benton thousands more.

“I told him that’s not what I authorized," Benton said.  She said she gave the contractor Christopher Bruhn more than half of the money she owed in cash.  And then she handed over her credit card to pay for materials and supplies to finish the job.

"I felt comfortable at first," she said. "I trusted him, I had no reason not to."

But then Benton said she become concerned.

"When I kept asking for the card back and he kept deferring and deflecting," Benton said. But when she looked at her credit card statement, she noticed that Bruhn allegedly racked up about 20,000 dollars worth of power tools, grills, plants, fencing and other stuff not needed for her home.

"He  kept saying that I gave him the card and that he  was using it and it was in lieu of payment,” said Benton.

Benton called police.  Christopher Bruhn was arrested over the weekend and charged with credit card fraud and three counts of Grand Larceny.

He's currently out on bond, but had no comment when we reached him at his Henrico home.

"You gotta do your homework,” said Tom Gallagher, with the Better Business Bureau.

Tom Gallagher says make sure you're dealing with a licensed contractor.

"Just check all around to check and see this company's reliability -- not their price.  The price becomes secondary when you're looking for the quality,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher says a simple Google search will give you a wealth of information.  And remember to get everything in writing and make sure the work comes with a warranty.

Benton said that her credit card limit was $15,000.  But she says the company never called her when it reached $20,000.  She added that this a lesson learned for her.

“Never give your credit card out to anyone.  I don’t care if it’s your family member or your best friend,” said Benton.  “Check your contractor whether you know him, or have a referral for that person.”

Christopher Bruhn is due back in Henrico’s General District court on Nov.17.