WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) — When Eugene Askey showed up at the District Magistrate’s office in Jeannette for a preliminary hearing on one scam, Westmoreland County detectives were waiting to arrest and charge him with scamming five more residents from May to October of this year.

Askey — who owns Askey’s Tree Service and advertises on Craigslist — is alleged to have taken hundreds of dollars from customers for tree removal service that he never completed.

After bidding for the work and taking a deposit, Askey, say Westmoreland detectives, would do part of the work before disappearing.

“He was supposed to come in the next two or three days and that didn’t materialize, and then he was supposed to come again a week later. I kept calling him,” said one of the victims who didn’t want his identity revealed talked to KDKA-TV.

“Unfortunately, he kept putting it off and putting it off, and he just never returned my calls. But in the meantime I did give him a deposit,” the victim said. “Right now we’re over $1,800.”

While that victim was out $1,800, other victims told detectives they had paid Askey as much as $5,600 for work never finished.

Askey’s Tree Service has an F rating by the Better Business Bureau, and Westmoreland police urge other victims to get in touch with authorities.

“This has to be stopped, and the only way we can do it is ourselves,” said one victim.

Askey is charged with theft by deception, fraudulent business practices and home improvement fraud.

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