MOUNT JULIET, TN (WSMV) - After a family failed to see the warning signs of handyman scam, they’re warning others about a local man, becoming a well-known scam artist in the area.

“This is the masterpiece that is the staircase,” Charlie Chessman said as she shook the shoddily built banisters leading to her basement back and forth.

By Tuesday, she had a sense of humor about it, “But, it was pretty heart-wrenching yesterday,” she said.

She wants to warn Middle Tennesseans about a man named Steven Wienk. She hired him, and who she was told is his wife, to work on her staircase.

“We put a post on ‘Hip Smyrna’ for anybody who could do the job within a week,” Chessman explained. Wienk responded immediately and insisted he could get the job done right away.”

Chessman admits, they trusted the couple quickly.

“It was really deceiving. We really felt like we got to know them,” she said.

Wienk told her they had six kids, were just starting their business out and could really use the extra cash.

After two days’ worth of shoddy work and a $650 deposit, the couple never came back to finish what they started.

“We really felt betrayed. You really feel your helping someone else, small business owner, just him and his wife, taking care of their kids,” she said.

Chessman wasn’t the only one.

Another woman told News4 Wienk cheated her out of money for a play house he never built, blaming it on his wife's cancer.

News4 found a GoFundMe account asking for help with cancer treatments.

According to a member of Wienk's family, this claim is untrue.

“We were very unwise We were too trusting,” Chessman said. “It hurts your feelings.”

The Mount Juliet Police Department is investigating allegations against Wienk but said it’s unclear whether what he’s accused of is criminal.

These are the top scam signs to look out for when hiring a handiwork service, according to the Better Business Bureau:

  • If you’re asked to make a quick decision
  • If you’re asked for a deposit higher than 10-20 percent
  • If you’re asked to pay in cash

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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