CBS 58 Investigates: Snow plow company leaves elderly customers snowed in

CBS 58 Investigates: Snow plow company leaves elderly customers snowed in

CBS 58-- Some elderly people were snowed in, after a plow company they hired turned out to be a scam.

CBS 58 Investigates looked into the company and found Wisconsin isn’t the only state where this is happening.

Wisconsin winters guarantee at least a couple snow storms every year, and at 83, Patricia Cronce, who lives in Milwaukee, isn’t up to shoveling her corner lot anymore.

“The neighborhood has changed and there’s no one around to do it,” Cronce said.

Cronce’s daughter, Anita Ellsberry, who lives in Florida, sets up snow removal services for her. This year, Ellsberry paid Milwaukee Snow Angels $350 before the season started.

“They were supposed to do the back ally front and side sidewalks and two sets of stairs,” Ellsberry said.

But the day the first snow storm hit in January, Snow Angels shut down.

“January 15 I received an email in the morning saying they were not able to service the route and the company was folding,” Ellsberry said.

“I just felt heartsick because I needed the help and it wasn’t there when you really need it,” Cronce added.

Snow Angels also left Sally Porter in a pinch. She paid them $625 to plow her dad’s home in Elm Grove.

“He’s confined to a chair, pretty much,” Porter said. “And he has caregivers that come and go.”

Porter says Snow Angels promised to show up when the snow reached two inches but that didn’t happen. Her emails went unanswered and the phone number she’s used to contact the company before was no longer in service.

“I trusted and I’m a little embarrassed about that,” Porter said.

Both victims filed complaints with The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

“We’ve talked to other BBBs and there’s the exact same situation in Minnesota and Chicago, with this same company,” said Jim Temmer, President of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

Temmer says there have been three complaints in Wisconsin, three in Chicago and 13 in Minnesota.

The owner of the company is Matt Erickson. His websites for Snow Angels are no longer up, and the address listed for Milwaukee Snow Angels is a P.O. Box at a UPS store.

CBS 58 Investigates called several numbers associated with the company, but they’re all disconnected.

Media reports from Minnesota show Erickson ran in a congressional primary in 2016 and bragged about his company during a speech

“As founder and director of Minnesota Snow Angels I help seniors and vulnerable adults by removing their snow at a reduced cost,” Erickson said during a speech.  

The BBB says there’s no indication that Snow Angels ever did any work for anyone they contracted with this year and they’re compiling information to turn over to police.

“They never intend to give you anything,” Temmer said. “You pay for it and there’s no intent to deliver.”

Victims in this case say they’re surprised this happened because they did their research and found the company on Home Advisor.

“BBB told me I should only go with agencies they’ve approved or have a good rating, and in hindsight, I don’t typically pay for services before they’re provided,” Ellsberry said.

Home Advisor does warn that Snow Angels is not a screened and approved member of the site.

“I think it’s lesson learned,” Ellsberry said. “Hard lesson learned.”

Ellsberry says her credit card company is fighting the charges, but even if she gets her money back, her mother wants the company brought to justice.

“I can’t believe that people can be so crooked to prey on old people,” Cronce said.

The BBB encourages anyone who used Snow Angels to contact them. They also when you’re contracting with a new company, look it up on the BBB website. If you’re pre-paying for anything, the BBB recommends using a credit card so you can fight the charges if it’s a scam.

To look up a business on the BBB site click here and to file a complaint with the BBB click here. 

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