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  1. #1
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    Big project ripoff

    I have ultimately been working for a subcontractor for the past month, and after I was done with my part of the project he said he would send me a check "overnight". However, it has already been over a week and I have not received anything. During the past week, all my attempts at calling him got me the answering machine. This subcontractor is somebody I worked with before, however, I am afraid for the worst. I also really need the money by the end of the month, which is a little more than one thousand. How can I get my money?

  • #2
    Regular Coder GO ILLINI's Avatar
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    if possible, talk to him personally. Was there any contract? or just a verbal agreement to pay.

    -Adam
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  • #3
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    The thing is, I met him on craigslist. He is from chicago and im from la, and since it was a person that i have worked with before then i didn't think too much of making a contract.

  • #4
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Do you have the ability to pull the work - or even invoice the person the subcontractor was working for?
    Have you tried emailing him? It may just be incredibly unfortunate that every time you call you get the answering machine rather than call-screening. Its also possible your check got lost in the mail - it does happen.

  • #5
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    I agree with Nancy. Additionally, if you're asking for payment during the week of Thanksgiving, he may just not be around. Maybe he's spending the week with family. I would try to keep cool, unless this guy has been blowing you off for over 30 days, there are probably reasons for his lack of contact.

    Although I personally get frustrated when people go on vacation without at least the courtesy of telling me they won't be available, it does happen.

    As far as the contract issue, always get something in writing. It's nothing personal, just business. It doesn't have to be a 12 page contract chocked full of legalese mumbo-jumbo, but you should have some type of agreement in place.

  • #6
    UE Antagonizer Fumigator's Avatar
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    I hope this turns out well for you, but if it doesn't, you should sue him on Judge Judy. I'd watch.

  • #7
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    Is there a way for me to get my money lawfully without a contract?

  • #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nervegas87 View Post
    Is there a way for me to get my money lawfully without a contract?
    That would involve suing him. Depending on the amount in question, you may be able to sue him in District Court (Justice of the Peace) or may be required to sue him in Small Claims Court. The threshold amounts vary from state to state (and even the availability of District Court varies). If you can sue in District Court, you can typically do so without a lawyer, if you must go to Small Claims Court, you would generally need an attorney. Whether or not you can sue for your attorney's fees also varies from state to state.

    The complication without a contract is that you would have to sue him in the courts in his jurisdiction, meaning you'd have to travel to Chicago.

    Even if you win, however, you are not guaranteed to get your money. Again, these rules vary from state to state, but, generally speaking, a judgment in your favor grants you the right to take further action. What actions are possible would also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in any event would require you to take further action.

    I'm sorry to say, but unless you're talking about a large sum of money, the costs, time and effort involved are likely not worth it.
    John

  • #9
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    I just talked to him today, and yes, he is definitely avoiding me. I managed to get a hold of him today after more than 2 weeks, and on the first call he hanged up. On the second call, he said that because of me, he lost a client, and did not give me a chance to tell him I was suing him. I guess this is because I sent an e-mail to the client saying that I was the site builder, etc... and he probably passed off as the designer himself.

    Anyways, I am choosing to sue him in small claims court in Chicago, Illinois. He owes me more than one thousand dollars for the work I have done for him over the past months. Although I never had a contract, I kept a record of all his e-mails since I started working for him, and I also have source copies of the websites that I have built for him (which are live on the internet), his work phone number, and his ftp accounts. Is that enough to win in court?

    Where could I find out court information regarding the state of Illinois?
    Any advice that could help would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by nervegas87; 11-30-2007 at 05:42 AM.

  • #10
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    Based on my experiences (in Pennsylvania), that level of documentation is not bad. You would need to provide a valid address for him, however. A phone number is not enough since the courts deal with matters in writing. Typically, since this is a business deal, a business address would suffice, as long as it is his business and not an employers.

    If he had paid you any money, you should be prepared to discuss that in court as well, with records. You'll need to show what the payments were for, and that the amount owed is in addition to the payments he made. If you have copies of checks he sent or records of banks used, etc - this would be a big plus.

    In short, any and all relevant documentation you have can be important. Be sure to compile it organized in such a way as you can easily produce any document the court might ask for. Also, it's a good idea to have extra copies on hand, as the court may well ask to see the documentation and to allow the defendant to view it as well.

    I would advise being very cautious about what you say or put in writing about him, either to his clients, associates or public places (such as this forum). You wouldn't want to expose yourself to a counter-suit for slander or libel. Aside from putting you on the defensive, it would also hurt your case against him.

    You should be able to get information on the courts directly from the Small Claims Court itself, and quite possibly on the internet. The court will be able to advise you as to their procedures, but they will not be able to offer any legal advise. In PA, all necessary information and even forms, etc are available online for many court-related matters. If in doubt, ask the court. It's far better to impose yourself on the court staff (within reason) than it is to waste a judge's time.

    Best of luck.
    John

  • #11
    Regular Coder saeed's Avatar
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    Its better to record all your telephonic conversation... a minor mistake or acceptance of what he did will **** him up. Don't get frustrated ... be normal and say ... you've been trying to reach him since last 4-5 weeks. If this is all about money we can discuss about it but why are you avoiding me ... obviously he is going to say something related to it ... thats enough... even he hangs up you can produce the recorded audio as evidence then he got no way to escape. []

    hth


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  • #12
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    Thank you for the advice PappaJohn, I took in account the fact that slander/libel could work against me, so I edited the post I made earlier.
    Again, thank you very much for the advice, I think I should be able to win this case. I just pray that i don't lose the case, because then I would probably waste money on plane tickets and time...

  • #13
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Did you contact his client *before* he started avoiding you? If so, that might work against you. There's a possibility he could try to counter-sue for loss of business.

  • #14
    Regular Coder ralph l mayo's Avatar
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    re: saeed's advice, If you record your calls with him the first words out of your mouth have to be 'this conversation is being recorded' because in California it is illegal to record without both parties' knowledge. There's a whole other legal can of worms if the recordings are going to be used as evidence; and you should probably either speak to a lawyer or forget about recording the calls.

  • #15
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    Thanks to everyone for their input.
    I am learning that there are many specific laws and restrictions that I must take in account. Like what you said ralph | mayo, I didn't know that phone call recording law existed.

    However, I am in financial need right now, and since I depended my paycheck on the contractor, I am going to put full effort into getting my money. Due to this, I don't think I could afford a lawyer for this case. And the way I see it, this contractor has clearly wronged me, and I alone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this person has wronged me.

    As for that possibility, NancyJ, I contacted his client after more than two weeks since he began avoiding me. I think that I have a right to do this due to my preoccupation about the contractor. During my entire time working with him, he never told me anything regarding "not directly contacting his clients".


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