Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns area consumers to use extreme caution before dealing with Paul E. Creager or his business, Everett Builders, LLC. BBB has received complaints from consumers and businesses in the Kirkwood, Mo., area who say Creager owes them tens of thousands of dollars each in connection with the business. The company lists an address at 1741 Rudder Industrial Park Drive in Fenton.According to Missouri court records, Creager or Everett Builders have been named as the defendant in a dozen lawsuits filed in the last 18 months. Two consumers who said they entered into contracts with Everett Builders to build homes in Kirkwood told BBB the business failed to build their homes, and Creager has not returned earnest money they gave him for the projects.“We were going to build our dream home,” one of the consumers told BBB.An Olivette business that told BBB it provided labor to do exterior work on homes for Everett Builders said Creager owed it $91,000.“Every closing that came up we were promised that we’d get paid, but we never did,” the business owner told BBB.Creager denied any wrongdoing when contacted by BBB. He said both consumers were in breach of contract and said he planned to sue one who had filed a lawsuit against him. Those customers are seeking the return of nearly $107,000 in earnest money.“My business practice has changed 100 percent,” Creager told BBB. “They will have to have a bank loan if they want me to build for them.”Everett Builders entered into a contract in October 2015 to build a $970,000 home at 613 North Harrison Avenue, a Kirkwood couple told BBB. The 5,100 square-foot residence was to be finished by March 2016, after an older home already on the lot was demolished. The couple said Creager delayed the project for several months for various reasons.“He always had an excuse,” the consumer told BBB.The couple told BBB they pulled out of the project around Thanksgiving and began the legal process of trying to get their money back from Creager.Another couple told BBB they hired Everett Builders to build a home at 215 Reedway Drive in the fall of 2015. The home, which was to be completed by March 2016, was to feature a three-car garage and a small swimming pool.“[Creager] promised us the moon,” the wife told BBB.The couple told BBB they gave Creager $106,700 in earnest money. Little work was done on the project. The couple filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Everett Builders in December 2016. The couple told BBB they filed suit after Creager asked for an additional 10 percent of the project’s cost.The owner of a Bonne Terre-based HVAC business told BBB his company subcontracted on 11 homes for Everett Builders in Kirkwood, but Creager did not pay for any of the work. The business owner recently sued Creager for breach of contract, claiming Creager owed his business more than $80,000 for labor and materials.“I think he owes somebody from every single [building] trade,” the HVAC business owner told BBB.Those lawsuits, as well as several others filed recently against Creager and Everett Builders, remain pending.Creager told BBB he had no plans to shut down his business or file bankruptcy. He told BBB he is trying to sell the homes on North Harrison Avenue and Reedway Drive. Federal court records show Creager twice filed for bankruptcy in 1998 and 2008 when he lived in Illinois. Records show he owed creditors more than $720,000 in the 2008 case. LaSalle County, Ill., Circuit Court records show Creager lost five lawsuits filed against him or his business, Creager Builders, between 2005 and 2008. The court ordered him to pay nearly $125,000 in those cases.In December 2008, Creager pleaded guilty to two felony counts in LaSalle CountyCircuit Court. A judge sentenced Creager to 30 months probation and 180 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer and retail theft. According to news reports, Creager entered a business in Ottawa wearing police tactical-style clothes in March 2008.Employees called police after Creager told them he was working undercover. Police reported finding a police-style pistol, a rifle, ammunition, handcuffs and police clothes, including Naplate, Ill., Police Department uniforms at his residence.The website for Everett Builders, homesbyeverett.com, says it operates in Missouri, Kansas and Florida.“Unlike many of our peers, we have a robust infrastructure with dedicated staff and deep relationships across trades allowing us to deliver superior craftsmanship within every home we sell,” the company claims on its website.BBB offers the following tips to consumers looking to hire a reputable contractor:Research any business and its owners carefully before 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), firstname.lastname@example.orgShellie Kreter, PR & Communications Manager, (314) 584-6723 or (314) 348-5451 (cell), email@example.comDon O’Brien, Investigator, (314) 584-6785, firstname.lastname@example.orgColumbia media contact: Sean Spence, Columbia Regional Director, (573) 886-8965, email@example.comCape Girardeau media contact: Joey Keys, Cape Girardeau Regional Director, (573) 803-3191, firstname.lastname@example.orgQuincy media contact: Mara Clingingsmith, BBB Quincy Regional Director, (217) 209-3972 or (217) 242-6272 (cell), email@example.comAbout 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. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.