Attorney General James and Acting State Police Superintendent Nigrelli Announce Indictment of Contractor for Defrauding Western New York Homeowners
Nathaniel Wagner Charged with Defrauding More Than a Dozen Homeowners out of More Than $230,000
BUFFALO – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting State Police Superintendent Steven Nigrelli announced the arrest and arraignment of Nathaniel Wagner, 40, of Newfane, NY, for allegedly operating a contractor fraud scheme against homeowners in Western New York. The 15-count indictment, unsealed in Niagara County Court before Judge Caroline Wojtaszek, charges Wagner with stealing more than $230,000 in deposit monies from more than a dozen homeowners that were intended for home improvement projects.
“Hardworking New Yorkers were fleeced out of the money they thought would be used for home improvement services,” said Attorney General James. “Instead of fulfilling his promises and doing the work he was paid to do, Nathaniel Wagner allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting homeowners to line his pockets. I thank the State Police for their partnership in this case, and I hope this indictment sends a clear message that anyone who seeks to scam or defraud New Yorkers will be brought to justice.”
“This individual perpetuated a devious scheme to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars for contracting work that he never performed,” said Acting Superintendent Nigrelli. “May this indictment serve as a reminder that we will not tolerate these types of fraudulent practices and hold accountable those who prey on innocent people. I applaud the work of our members and our partners at the Attorney General’s Office for holding Mr. Wagner accountable and bringing a measure of justice for the victims.”
The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau (CEFC) and the New York State Police (NYSP). The investigation began in the spring of 2022 when OAG and NYSP received numerous complaints from New York homeowners. As set forth in the indictment, Wagner is charged with stealing more than $230,000 from more than a dozen Western New York homeowners between December 2019 and July 2022. During that time, Wagner allegedly advertised his services on Facebook under his business, Wagner Built Construction, by offering to build and install barns, garages, and decks.
Wagner allegedly solicited large amounts of deposit funds upfront for home improvement work, but then he never performed the work, failed to deliver materials he claimed to have purchased with the deposits, and refused to issue refunds to homeowners. In one situation, when a homeowner became suspicious after his constant delays and excuses, Wagner allegedly went as far as creating fraudulent invoices to show fake purchases from a reputable business to conceal his crime. Wagner also attempted to calm upset customers by delivering minimal materials, which were oftentimes unusable, incorrect, and damaged goods, to their homes, but he never returned to their homes to start construction work.
An audit conducted by OAG revealed that instead of using homeowners’ money to purchase materials or perform home improvements, Wagner used the money for personal expenses, including large cash withdrawals, vehicle repairs, child support, personal investments, and even payments to family members. He was arraigned and charged with 12 counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a Class D felony), two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class E felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a Class E felony).
Any homeowner who believes they were impacted by this scheme and want to file a complaint against Wagner are encouraged to contact OAG at Wagner.Complaints@ag.ny.gov.
The charges against Wagner are allegations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Attorney General James thanks NYSP and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office for their valuable assistance in this investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Liam Dwyer of CEFC, with the assistance of Deputy Supervising Analyst Jayleen Garcia and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. Forensic accounting was performed by Forensic Auditor Investigator Bashiri Kirven, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro of the Forensic Audit Section. CEFC is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo. Detective Investigator Scott Barnes of the Investigations Bureau handled the criminal investigation, under the supervision of Assistant Chief Samuel Scotellaro and Deputy Chief Juanita Bright of the Major Investigations Unit. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. Both CEFC and the Investigations Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.