Thousands of dollars, multiple complaints and a roofer charged with fraud
Homeowner after homeowner paid thousands of dollars to Above and Beyond Roofing out of Charlotte and got nothing. Frustrated, the homeowners reached out to 5 On Your Side. Monica Laliberte started investigating and learned that the North Carolina Department of Insurance was doing the same.
On Monday afternoon, Rico Romero, owner of Above and Beyond, surrendered to authorities in Union County. He faces nine felony charges of fraud and nine misdemeanor charges for not doing work he was paid to do.
Among his alleged victims were Jan and Harriet Koot, of Raleigh. After a hailstorm, a salesman with Above and Beyond Roofing, Alex Grosso, showed up at their home.
“He sat there at that kitchen table there for an hour and a half talking to us,” Jan Koot said. Grosso “presented himself very professionally. I trusted the man.”
According to Koot, Grosso spent a half hour on the roof, found damage, said they needed a new roof and handled the claim with the Koot’s insurance company.
“He contacted our insurance man, We never did. He did,” said Jan Koot.
Their adjuster agreed there was damage and issued a check for $5,500.
Grosso picked it up Jan. 13.
“That’s the last time we ever saw him,” Jan Koot said. “This guy was just so smooth, that he just got me.”
The Koots say they called and called Grosso but never heard back.
They went to Above and Beyond’s office on Six Forks Road in Raleigh. It’s now closed, but during their visit, Jan Koot says the receptionist called Grosso on the phone.
Koot said Grosso explained that he had been sick, but told Koot his roof would be fixed soon.
“Nobody ever showed up,” Koot said.
The Koots are among at least eight homeowners who complained to 5 On Your Side that Above and Beyond did not do roof work as promised. Combined, the families paid the company $63,584.
The NC Department of Insurance told 5 On Your Side that they’ve found almost $70,000 worth of work for which Romero was paid and failed to deliver. They are investigating additional complaints, so that number could go higher.
Senior Deputy Commissioner Marty Sumner told us they started hearing complaints in April. Sumner couldn’t talk specifics about the cases he’s investigating, but WRAL got a hold of a search warrant that shows investigators are looking at Romero’s bank records. The warrant details a scenario similar to the Koot’s: a storm, a salesman finding damaged roofs, checks deposited by Above and Beyond, then no work.
While the NC Department of Insurance investigation plays out, Sumner shared red flags homeowners should look for.
“I would be as skeptical of somebody going door to door solicitating after a storm like that, as I would be getting a robo call trying to sell me some kind of extended warranty on a product I don’t have,” said Sumner.
“I would NOT take advantage of anybody’s offer to say we’ll deal with your insurance company. You’re the one that’s insured,” he added.
He suggested that homeowners research all vendors online, always get multiple quotes and make sure any contract has a written date for work to be complete.
The Koot’s contract with Above and Beyond Roofing does not have a date.
Five on Your Side called and emailed both Rico Romero and Alex Grosso multiple times about our story. Grosso never called back.
Romero finally said, “I know it looks really, really bad like I’ve stolen people’s money and I’ve ran off with it. That’s not the case. I’ve been trying to pay them back as I’m hearing of them.”
Two of 5 On Your Side’s eight homeowners tell us Romero eventually repaid them.
He told us, “I should have everybody wrapped up in the next few weeks.”
Some homeowners have since paid thousands to have their roofs replaced by other companies.
Others, including the Koots, still hope to get their money back.
“They’re dishonest,” said Koot. “And they got us.”