Gwinnett homeowners say they were scammed out of thousands by fleeing tree trimmer

Some homeowners in Gwinnett County are out thousands of dollars after they say a tree trimmer started the job and then ran off with their money. 

Their yards are now littered with downed trees, and their patience has splintered. 

Carol Freeman says she’s out $4,600 after a botched tree trimming job in her backyard in Lilburn.

She says the guy knocked on her door and said he was doing some work in the neighborhood. She gave him a check, and he started the job. Then, she says he just kept asking for more money and then ghosted her. 

"I had tried calling and texting, no answer," Freeman said.

Between yards, it almost looks like a path of destruction. A next-door neighbor told us off-camera she lost two grand to this same guy. 

Another neighbor lost about a thousand. 

Then they started searching online. 

"My stomach went in knots," Freeman said. "I got very sick and shaky. My neighbor said the same thing; she was actually physically sick."

Freeman says she found a photo of the man she dealt with in an article about a similar scheme investigated by Gwinnett Police in 2017. The company on the business card he gave, Squirrel Tree Service, seemed legit enough. 

"They had great reviews, had insurance, all the things you would ask," Freeman said. "Except that it wasn’t him."

The CEO of the real Squirrel Tree Service, Inc., based in Cumming, says they’ve been flooded with angry calls about unfinished jobs. 

After Freeman told him about our story, he wanted to speak to FOX 5 to clear his company’s name. 

"Our office is getting the brunt of it just because it’s a lot of people that are angry that their job's not getting done," said Angel "Jacob" Gonzalez of Squirrel Tree Service.

He emphasized they have nothing to do with this guy, and police in Cumming told him there wasn’t much they could do to stop him. "The biggest thing is reputation. We’ve taken really bad reviews," Gonzalez said.

He says any legit business will put an agreement on paper. 

"You gotta see a contract. A real business will show you a contract, they will write it, they will email it to you," Gonzalez added.

Freeman thinks it will take another $4,500 to fix this mess, but for now, she just wants to warn others. "I’m really trying to protect other people that may fall for a scam because we know many others have fallen for it, and he gives a good story," Freeman said.

Gwinnett County police tell us they are investigating this, but they couldn’t reveal too much to protect the integrity of their investigation.