Fraud Charges Six Months in the Making for Canadian DealerApril 15th, 2019 by Brigid O'Leary
Nearly three weeks ago, the news broke: Craig O’Brien, owner of Windsor, Ontario-based Certified Windows and Doors, had been arrested. After a nearly six-month-long process of investigation, O’Brien was taken in on charges of fraud. According to Windsor police, approximately 25-30 complaints began rolling in sometime around the end of September 2018—all levied against O’Brien’s company, alleging that it was “accepting payment from institutions and directly from clients for work that had not allegedly been completed.”
Around the same time that Windsor police fielded complaints about Certified Windows, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) became aware of similar claims, including a “pattern of complaints concerning non-delivery of ordered products, as well as failure to respond to consumer inquiries regarding installation dates or refunds.”
As a private, nonprofit organization, the BBB’s mission includes advancing marketplace trust. The organization consists of 106 independently incorporated local BBB organizations in the United States and Canada, all working to create an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other. Among other things, the BBB will call out and address substandard marketplace behavior. According to information provided by the bureau, a local outlet noticed such behavior from Certified Windows and Doors. Starting in early October 2018, the BBB recorded “a higher than normal volume of complaints concerning non-delivery of ordered products, as well as failure to respond to consumer inquiries regarding installation dates or refunds of paid deposits.”
While the local police department referred the complaints – which, according to some reports numbered a total of 70 in the end – to the Financial Crimes Branch, the BBB went to work as well. On November 2, 2018, the local BBB office issued a written request for Certified Windows and Doors to address the complaints against it. The organization’s file on the company indicates that a month later there had been no reply from the company. O’Brien did issue a written statement to a local news outlet in November 2018, though, citing personal health issues as preventing him from working for more than a year. O’Brien also claimed that the end to one of Ontario’s green energy rebate programs caused additional difficulties for his company.
Consumers reported to the BBB – and several local news outlets – as early as November 2018 that on the doors to Certified Windows Inc.’s office, which they found locked, a handwritten note was posted indicating that the business was closed.
Employees at the BBB turned internet sleuth. Looking further into Certified Windows Inc., which the BBB file indicates was opened in 1993, though it was not registered with the BBB until 2012, the organization noted that the Certified Windows website was created in 2006 and registered to O’Brien. Noting that the company was using the BBB name and logo in a way that violated the organization’s name and logo policy, the bureau checked on the website again in February 2019, only to find that it was no longer active. A statement at the company’s URL address read: “Website Coming Soon! Please check back soon to see if the site is available.” To date, an internet search for “Certified Windows and Doors, Windsor, Ontario” returns basic information about the company, including the original address and phone number, along with a notation that the business is permanently closed. When attempting to contact the company at the phone number previously listed, DWM’s editors found it was no longer active. There is no link to a website provided, though it can be accessed via the BBB page about the company, which leads with the four alerts the organization holds against the company.
All complaints filed against the company with the BBB from August 30, 2018, onward have been closed as unanswered, but the organization recommends that “consumers with outstanding concerns are still encouraged to file a complaint for BBB records, but may also wish to contact legal counsel and/or local law enforcement.”
And consumers still can contact the Windsor Police’s Financial Crime Branch, though their investigation progressed enough to have 44-year-old O’Brien arrested on March 28, 2019, and charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, as well as for uttering a forged document. Uttering a forged document is sometimes called “passing a forged document,” referring to the use of a document as if it were legitimate. The act can land a person in jail for up to 10 years. Charges of fraud over $5,000 can net a jail sentence of up to 14 years.
O’Brien’s first court appearance was on April 10, and he is scheduled to be back in front of a judge on May 2.