Suit accuses owners of home-repair firm of serial fraud

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller sued the two owners of Carmel-based Green Frog Restoration Inc. on Tuesday, charging they scammed at least 41 Indianapolis-area residents out of more than $280,000 after one of them conducted similar schemes against Ohio and Kentucky residents.
The suit, filed in Hamilton County court, alleges Green Frog owners James Twaddle and Wanda VanWinkle collected money for repairs they never completed, violating Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, Home Improvement Contracts Act, Home Solicitation Sales Act and the Senior Consumer Protection Act. 

Zoeller's office said it launched an investigation this summer after complaints flooded in from Green Frog customers who paid for repairs to their homes, such as for new roofing or siding, after suffering seasonal storm damage. 

The suit said Twaddle and VanWinkle lined up the customers by going door to door. It said the residents secured insurance coverage for the repairs and then transferred the money, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to almost $20,000, to Green Frog.

The repairs never occurred, according to the lawsuit, which says more than half of the victims were over age 60.

“We often warn Hoosiers about ‘storm chasers’ who aim to rip off homeowners when they are in urgent need of repair services and may be most vulnerable,” Zoeller said in a written statement. 

Twaddle and VanWinkle could not be located for comment. The company’s website is no longer operating, and a phone number for Green Frog Restoration listed on Angie’s List has been disconnected.

The Attorney General’s Office said its investigation found that Twaddle had similarly scammed numerous Ohio and Kentucky consumers in 2012 under the business name “Restore-It.” 

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in 2013 against Twaddle that resulted in a default judgment, in which Twaddle was ordered to pay more than $255,000 to the state. 

Twaddle also faced criminal charges from  Ohio and Kentucky for theft, racketeering, money laundering and insurance fraud related to his home repair scheme, according to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

While those charges were pending, Twaddle and VanWinkle ramped up Green Frog’s Indianapolis-area operations. 

Twaddle was ultimately indicted in Ohio and Kentucky, and ordered to serve jail time in addition to paying fines. 
VanWinkle and Twaddle used $150,000 collected from central Indiana to pay off some of those fines, the suit alleges.

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