DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — A Hanover man has been charged with home improvement fraud after police say he failed to pay back thousands of dollars to a customer for funds that were not used for permit and land study costs.
In September, the victim paid 36-year-old Joseph Bennett $30,000 — two-thirds of the total cost — to cover permits and land studies that needed to be completed to have a modular home placed on Chambers Hill Drive. Bennett then asked the man for an additional deposit of $60,000 for excavation work, in which the man declined, refused to pay anymore money and asked for his money back, according to police.
During an investigation into the alleged fraud, police found that permit fees and stormwater management checks paid to Swatara Township by Bennett in November totaled $879.50. An approximate cost for the runoff study was $4,700, making the total project cost $5,579.50.
Police reached out to Bennett numerous times in May — the victim reported the incident to police in April — to get a true amount of where the man’s money went. Bennett, police wrote in the criminal complaint, failed to do so but did finally issue an invoice that, according to police, was lacking adequate detail. It was for $7,019.50 that he would be billing the man for time spent on the project and permit fees.
Police say the man was willing to forego prosecution if the remaining $22,980.50 was returned.
According to police, Bennett didn’t pay the man because “he didn’t have enough time,” the criminal complaint stated.
A warrant was then issued for his arrest.