The Power of the Collective Good


By Nona Phinn

After being scammed by a contractor, one homeowner decided she’d had enough and took action.

The following story represents one of the “Voices of Scam TrackerSM” featured in the 2017 BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report.

Lindsey thought a deck would be a perfect addition to her newly renovated backyard and began searching for a contractor. As it happened, Lindsey’s boyfriend knew Howard Norman of Jarhead Landscaping. He and Howard were softball buddies. They’d had dinner with Howard and his wife at one point, and Howard was a former Marine, he reminded her.

Lindsey agreed Howard was the man for the job.

She met Howard at a Home Depot to pick out building supplies, but he said some would need to be specially ordered. Howard promised he could get the supplies for a lower price, as he had a business account with the store and a friend who worked there, so Lindsey gave him $5,000.

I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else. I own a small business too. So I wrote a review on social media.”

She waited for the supplies to arrive, but they never showed up. After a series of text messages with Howard, Lindsey finally realized that the materials weren’t coming and demanded a refund.

“I have proof,” Lindsey recalled. “He sent me more than 20 text messages saying the check was on its way to repay me the money that he owes me, and each time he had a lie or an excuse.”

When Lindsey threatened to call the police, Howard refunded her a mere $1,200, claiming that was all he had. Outraged, Lindsey went online to give him a bad review. That’s when she saw something even more infuriating: Howard had posed as her on a review site and left a glowing review of his own work — work he never started.

“I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else. I own a small business too,” Lindsey said. “So I wrote a review on social media.”

It wasn’t long before responses started pouring in. Ten people reached out to Lindsey saying they too had hired Howard and he never completed any of their projects.

Enough was enough for Lindsey. She and the other 10 victims pulled together and reached out to the media, which jumped at the chance to expose a con artist who had not only taken money from 11 homeowners but also scammed people in three other states.

The power of good prevailed. Lindsey felt vindicated as she experienced the power of the collective good bringing evil to its knees.

To read more stories like Lindsey’s and get advice on avoiding scams, download the 2017 BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report at

Note: The name of the victim has been changed to protect her identity.

Barton, G., Pessanha, R., Trumpower, M., Scandale, M., Bittner, M., & Chng-Castor, A. (2017). 2017 BBB Scam Tracker annual risk report: New trends in scam risk. Retrieved from Better Business Bureau website:

Nona Phinn is the Founder and CEO of THuS Marketing and Branding Services, a firm that helps personal and corporate brands communicate their mission in an intimate and profound way. Through her firm, Phinn gets to do what she loves best: create and implement strategies that get to the heart of marketing.