Council Bluffs veteran scammed by contractor, refunded after 6 News investigation

A Council Bluffs contractor scammed a disabled veteran out of thousands. After a 6 News investigation, he was refunded.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 10:26 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - An online ad for a handyman looked like just what the doctor ordered for a disabled homeowner in Council Bluffs.

The military strength needed to serve has long retreated from his body, so Paul Goeltz isn’t up on making repairs to his own home.

“It’s really hard bending and to tell you the truth, I’m pretty much immobile,” Goeltz said. “So I have to find contractors.”

Rock Tuff Company is the one he chose from the online ads, paying its owner, Brian Rau, about $2,000 upfront.

“I gave him the money and got nothing in return,” Goeltz said.

The contract called for exterior door replacements, chimney repairs, and the removal of a small toilet followed by installation of a new commode.

But a paid contractor needs more than tools, supplies, and skills to make those kinds of repairs. In Council Bluffs, they also need a license.

The Council lBluffs Building Division tells 6 News that Brian Rau and his Rock Tuff Company are not in the city’s system as a registered contractor.

“I just let my guard down,” Goeltz said. “I thought I was checking stuff and I guess I didn’t check everything.”

The contractor declined to comment on taking payment for remodeling work without the required license, but he says he wants to put it all behind him with a refund.

Better Business Bureau President Jim Hegarty acted as a go-between and gave the contractor’s cashier’s check to Goeltz.

“We’re grateful the contractor was willing to step up and do this and be responsive,” Hegarty said. “We act as a neutral third party to help individuals like [Goeltz] who are in circumstances like this.”

Refund in hand, Goeltz says he’ll hire a licensed contractor for his home improvements.

“I’m a retired, disabled veteran, so it’s nice to have the money to put it to use for what it was intended for,” Goeltz said.

Before hiring anyone for home remodeling, officials urge the public to check with a local building official to see if they need a license and permits for the work being done.

Also, when contacting the Better Business Bureau, people are advised to provide more than just the business name because those can change. Be sure to get the contractor’s information so a customer service history can be tracked no matter what their company is called.