Ray Crum, a Missouri home remodeler who has left a trail of unhappy customers in Colorado, Missouri and Illinois, appears to have started a new contracting business, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.BBB advises consumers to exercise extreme caution when dealing with Crum, whose full name is Raymond E. Crum Jr., or the new company, Platinum Remodeling and Design, Inc. Platinum Remodeling lists addresses in Chesterfield and Cape Girardeau.A Missouri secretary of state annual registration report lists Crum as the sole member of the new company’s board of directors and his wife, Crystal Crum, as president of the business.The state registration report was filed on April 19, less than three weeks after Crum was charged with home repair fraud in connection with a Union County, Ill., case involving his previous remodeling company, The Luxus Group. In that case, a consumer from Jonesboro, Ill., said he paid Crum and The Luxus Group $3,300 in October as a deposit on a bathroom remodeling job, but the work was never started.“He took my $3,300 and never came back,” said the man, who added he gave Crum multiple opportunities to refund his money before contacting police. The man said he contacted BBB and law enforcement, hoping to prevent other homeowners from losing money.The Luxus Group has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible, as a result of two unanswered complaints.In November, BBB issued an alert advising caution when dealing with Crum. At that time, BBB said Crum and a previous business, Trademark Home Solutionsof Centennial, Colo., were the focus of more than a dozen BBB complaints in 2013 from consumers who said they paid for work that was either poorly done or not done at all. A law enforcement official in Colorado said Crum pleaded guilty in September 2014 to a felony charge involving the theft of more than $20,000 from a Colorado materials supplier and two consumers.Michelle Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO, said the number and seriousness of customer complaints against Crum and his past businesses are good reasons to be cautious of hiring him for contracting work.“Mr. Crum’s problems with his other business enterprises indicate he is not a man who can be trusted,” Corey said. “For consumers looking for a good contractor, there would seem to be many better choices.”A Jackson, Mo., homeowner filed a BBB complaint against Crum and The Luxus Group in March, claiming that Crum abandoned a remodeling project at her home after taking $44,000 of the $73,000 contract price. “(He) left the house in a mess,” she said. “How can he do this? It’s incredible.”She said she had to pay thousands of dollars for appliances and other items that Crum claimed he had already purchased, and eventually had to hire another contractor to finish the work. She estimates that Crum disappeared, owing her at least $25,000.The woman also noted that a project manager hired by Crum, Eric Henry of Cape Girardeau, was arrested in December on charges that he stole jewelry and several tools from the woman’s home during the construction work.In addition, a Cape Girardeau area contractor said he feels “terrible” about referring a local woman to Crum’s business. The contractor said the woman paid Crum and The Luxus Group a $7,000 down payment in September to replace a roof at her home, but the work was never done.State registration documents for Platinum Remodeling show a business address in the 500 block of Silverado Trail in Cape Girardeau, but the company’s website (platinumremodelinganddesign.com) lists an address in the 200 block of Chesterfield Industrial Blvd., in Chesterfield.The manager of the building where the office is located told BBB that Crum entered into a contract for office space in February, but never paid a deposit or rent for the office and never moved in. He also said Crum, representing Platinum Remodeling, bid to do work at the manager’s home, but did not follow through with the offer. He called Crum “a lot of smoke and mirrors.”Attempts to reach Ray or Crystal Crum by phone and email were unsuccessful.When contacted last fall about his business in Colorado, Crum blamed his problems on a business partner he said stole from the company.At that time, Crum said he had been a model businessman since opening The Luxus Group and a second company, Storm Renovators, in Missouri. Crum also has operated Chesterfield Construction.“Everybody’s happy,” Crum said then.BBB offers the following tips to consumers looking to hire a reputable contractor: Research the business and owners carefully before signing a contract, providing any sensitive personal information or paying any money. Go to www.bbb.org to search for BBB Business Profiles or find contact info for your local BBB.Ask for references and contact them.Before paying, make sure you have a signed contract outlining what work is to be done, a timetable for completion and an explanation of what happens if the business or consumer reneges on the agreement.Ask the contractor for proof that he or she is bonded and insured.Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the payment.Do not pay everything in advance. It is a good rule to pay a portion when you sign the contract and the final payment only after you are satisfied with the completed work.When work is completed and the contractor has been paid, make sure you have received lien waivers showing subcontractors and material suppliers have been paid for the job. St. Louis Area Media Contacts: Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), email@example.comShellie Kreter, PR & Communications Manager, (314) 584-6723 or (314) 348-5451 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.orgBill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, email@example.comColumbia media contact: Sean Spence, Columbia Regional Director, (573) 886-8965, firstname.lastname@example.orgCape Girardeau media contact: Joey Keys, Cape Girardeau Regional Director, (573) 803-3191, email@example.comQuincy media contact: Mara Clingingsmith, BBB Quincy Regional Director, (217) 209-3972 or (217) 242-6272 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.orgAbout BBBBBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. 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