A Toronto area man is facing a number of criminal charges and civil lawsuits after he allegedly defrauded homeowners and failed to pay his workers while operating under an “alter ego” with at least two different legal names and as many as four contracting companies.
King City, Ont., resident Carmelo Scarola, is currently facing at least three criminal charges and two civil lawsuits in the GTA over a number of alleged fraud-related incidents in the last three years, court documents show.
In September, Scarola was arrested by York police for allegedly defrauding a Newmarket family, he’s entangled in two ongoing civil lawsuits regarding worker compensation, and Toronto police say he’s been named three times in fraud-related reports made to the service in the last two years. Court documents show he’s also facing at least one non-fraud-related criminal charge at Toronto’s Old City Hall.
Scarola may also operate under the name Gaetano, York Regional Police told CTV News Toronto – under which he’s believed to currently be facing six additional criminal charges and three additional lawsuits in the last decade.
Businesses associated with Scarola include Wolf Construction and Renovations Ltd. and the now-inactive Buonna Tile, government registries show. Court documents and a Better Business Bureau complaint filed against Scarola suggest AR Tile and Marble and AR Contracting and Tile have also been used.
CTV News Toronto has spoken to five alleged victims of Scarola, both homeowners and labourers. Due to safety concerns, they will be quoted anonymously. Collectively, Scarola is alleged to have defrauded or withheld wages totalling more than $100,000 from those interviewed.
“I believe [Scarola’s] project is designed to scam people,” a Greater Toronto Area labourer who alleges they’re owed more than $10,000 by the contractor told CTV News Toronto.
At the time of publication, Scarola has been released from custody on an undertaking. Correspondence between CTV News Toronto and Wolf Construction and Renovation Ltd. suggests the company is still operating, and multiple Google reviews have been left for the company as recently as a week ago.
“There could be many people out there who have remained quiet because they believe that they can’t do anything,” said a Toronto area homeowner who alleges Wolf Construction and Renovation Ltd. began a project in their home that was never completed, costing them tens of thousands of dollars.
When reached for comment, Scarola denied all allegations against him, categorizing them as “false” and directing any further request for comment to his legal representation, Toronto lawyer Mitchell Worsoff, who declined.
It’s been more than two years since Scarola was hit with two civil lawsuits alleging he failed to pay a North York construction company their wages, totalling just over $74,000.
Checkmate Tile was hired by Scarola in September 2020 to provide tile installation services on builds in Barrie and Hamilton, Ont., court documents state.
At the time, Scarola was operating under AR Contracting and Tile alongside “a number of related companies, all [of] which operate as his alter ego in providing tile and installation services,” a statement of claim filed on behalf of Checkmate Tile reads.
Two months after contracts were signed and work had begun, the documents allege Scarola had yet to compensate Checkmate’s owner, and in turn, labourers, for their work.
“Checkmate has demanded payment,” court documents state. “But [Scarola] has either refused and/or neglected to pay the outstanding amount.”
Now, more than two years later, the cases have yet to see a resolution, and Checkmate Tile is still allegedly owed tens of thousands of dollars.
In the years since launching the lawsuit, the owners of Checkmate Tile placed a lien on both GTA properties. In December 2021, property owners Pratt Development discharged the liens, passing responsibility to pay all final judgements to the Crown.
The matter is still before the courts. Documents provided by the courts suggest that Scarola has yet to file a statement of defence with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in either case.
‘A GREAT QUOTE’
While facing the aforementioned lawsuits, in February 2022, Scarola allegedly defrauded a couple of more than $5,000 after agreeing to renovate two bathrooms in their Richmond Hill home, court documents and reports filed with the police state.
The allegations have not been proven in court and Scarola has made an appearance in a Newmarket courthouse to face the charges as recently as April.
A report filed to Toronto police reviewed by CTV News Toronto showed the family became aware of Scarola’s services through an online ad. He visited their home, did a walkthrough of two washrooms needing renovations, and offered “a great quote,” it said.
The report alleges Scarola requested a deposit for the project of nearly one-third the total price. In total, the alleged victims reportedly gave him just over $8,000, consisting of a deposit and extra costs for supplies.
However, nearly a month later, Wolf Construction and Limited had yet to make any meaningful progress on the project, the report states. It alleges the contractor repeatedly negotiated start dates, was frequently indirect in his communication, and offered a number of varied excuses for why the work had not been started.
At this point, the couple reportedly attempted to withdraw from the contract, demanding their money back, the report states. By April, two months after hiring Scarola, the report said the couple had not been refunded and filed a fraud report with York Regional Police (YRP).
After a months-long investigation, YRP arrested Scarola in September 2022 and charged him with one count of fraud over $5,000 and one count of breach of probation.
‘THIS INDIVIDUAL NEEDS TO BE EXPOSED’
Almost every alleged victim interviewed by CTV News Toronto said they realized that a larger situation than initially anticipated was in play when they took to the internet to seek more about the contractor they suspected of fraud or theft and found a number of similar accounts. The businesses have their fair share of positive reviews on Google— many left quite recently — alongside multiple complaints alleging uncompleted projects and unpaid wages.
“Repeat fraudster, multiple corporations, consistently starts over, dozens of scams,’ reads one review left a month ago.
An example of a Google Review in which similar accounts to those shared with CTV News Toronto are described. (Google)
“Carmelo demanded a second payment half a day into demo work, and then flooded our kitchen, and refused to do any work to repair damage in our condo, or the condo below,” reads another.
Each alleged victim interviewed by CTV News Toronto separately expressed concern over what they identified as Scarola’s ability to continue operating Wolf Construction and Renovation Ltd. amid ongoing legal battles and outstanding charges.
“For me, it was just a matter of: this individual needs to be exposed,” said one homeowner who’s allegedly owed more than $10,000.
“I know for a fact I’m not going to get my money back — as much as that upsets me, I believe that’s the reality, but if I can protect others from being victimized, that’s what I want to do.”