Army vet scammed by local business owner

WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — Philip Dias, a retired Army veteran, always wanted a boat. He told Call 12 For Action that when he finally did get the boat — he also got ripped off in the process.

Phil served in the service since 1984 and after an injury in Afghanistan prompted an early retirement — he got the boat he had been waiting for.

“I always wanted to buy this,” Phil said.

The boat needed a ton of work though, and Phil said he was prepared to take on the challenge.

“First thing I wanted to get done [was] the cushions,” he said.

Phil brought his cushions to a company in Westerly in October to have them reupholstered — and he put down a deposit of $1,800.

“He sat there and demonstrated his stitching, I checked out his website; good guy with a lot of business,” Phil said.

According to Phil, the website was full of good examples.

But then when he tried to contact the business — he found that it had closed.

“I tried calling and I couldn’t get in touch. And then I went to the store and it was closed,” he explained.

A sign on the door said “Out of Business,” and Phil did not get any kind of explanation or apology from the owner — he also didn’t get his cushions or a refund.

After filing a police report, Phil learned that the owner removed all funds from his business and left the country.

“It’s sad that people do that..how do you go to bed at night and sleep knowing you’ve done this to people,” he asked.

Call 12 For Action contacted the U.S. Immigration Office, the State Police, and the Attorney General’s Office — unfortunately there is no recourse for customers who lose their money to business owners who get deported or leave the country.

Consumers can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office and if there are any assets leftover, they may be able to help recoup some of the losses.

As for Phil — he now has no cushions and has to start from scratch.

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