YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Picture this scenario: Your pipe bursts and you need immediate assistance. You decide to use a local plumbing company that you’ve heard about, but you don’t know their number.
So, you search “Yorktown Plumbing and Heating” on Google.
The number immediately pops up and you give them a call. Only, unbeknownst to you, the person who shows up to fix your pipe is not from Yorktown Plumbing and Heating at all. This imposter plumbing professional goes on to perform shoddy work and you go online and leave a bad review for Yorktown Plumbing and Heating.
This has been Colleen and James D’Alessio’s nightmare for several years.
Up until mid-January, a Google business listing that included a photo of James appeared in search results. However, the phone number that accompanied this listing did not belong to Yorktown Plumbing and Heating.
“We had several times where James went to jobs and they were confused about a name and a number,” Colleen told Yorktown News.
Colleen, though, said there is an easy way for people to tell if they hired the wrong company.
“James is the owner and he is also the only employee of the company, so there is nobody else that would be showing up,” she said.
Both companies do business as “Yorktown Plumbing and Heating,” but James and Colleen’s is the only one registered under that name with the New York Division of Corporations.
So, was this a case of mistaken stolen identity or was it something more sinister?
On Jan. 16, Yorktown News called the number associated with the business listing on Google to find out.
The customer service representative who answered the phone identified herself as an employee of Yorktown Plumbing and Heating.
When asked to clarify if she worked for the company owned by James D’Alessio, she answered “yes.”
“I honestly cannot believe they had the audacity to say that,” Colleen said.
A message was left for the manager of the company in a follow-up phone call, which was not returned.
Colleen said it was “disheartening” to learn that another company was misrepresenting itself as Yorktown Plumbing and Heating. Not only does it take business away from them, she said, but it also damages their reputation if the work is sub-par.
Several times, Colleen and James have logged online to defend their company against negative reviews that were given when the imposter company performed the work.
Upon learning of the deceit, Colleen said she reached out to government agencies, the Better Business Bureau, attorneys and private investigators. Colleen said she was repeatedly told, “There’s nothing we can do.”
“You don’t know how bad we want to take legal action, and everybody keeps saying we have no grounds for it,” Colleen said. “I don’t think that there’s really any fire behind anybody to be doing anything much about this—at all.”
The issue, however, is on the radar of the Yorktown Police Department.
“The Yorktown Police Department Detective Division is actively investigating a complaint consistent with what has been reported [to Yorktown News],” Chief Robert Noble said. He added that “the investigation should determine whether crimes up to and including identity theft, fraud, petit larceny and grand larceny have in fact been attempted and/or committed.”
Noble said anyone with information can call his detectives at 914-962-3856.
Online, the tide also seems to be turning for the family-owned business. On Jan. 16, the false business listing was removed from Google. Negative business reviews have also been removed recently from websites such as Yelp.
Colleen said it seems her persistence finally paid off.
“I’ve done about 40 to 60 hours’ worth of work in the last week and a half,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve done it.”
While her website appears as the top search result, she has since reached out to Google to have the business appear as a featured listing, similar to other businesses (on a desktop, this listing appears on the right-hand side and it appears on the top on mobile). As of press time on Jan. 29, this listing has not appeared on Google.
A message left for Google was not returned.
Looking to take control over their internet presence, Colleen recently created a Facebook page for Yorktown Plumbing and Heating. She admits that neither she nor her husband are particularly tech-savvy, which puts them at a disadvantage in a situation like this.
“Unfortunately, when you’re not as savvy technically as you need to be, you make a lot of mistakes because there is no book on how to open up a business properly with the internet the way that it is,” Colleen said.
The Other Business
Information regarding the operations of the Yorktown Plumbing and Heating not owned by James and Colleen D’Alessio is difficult to find, though research reveals it is one of several companies seemingly owned by the same person.
• East Main Street Plumbing Company lists its phone number as 914-302-3072 and its address as 1137 East Main St.
• Yorktown Plumbing and Heating lists its phone number as 914-302-3073 and its address as 3691 Old Yorktown Road.
• Yorktown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling lists its phone number as 914-302-3074 and its address as 366 Downing Drive.
• Yorktown Heights Plumbing and Heating lists its phone number as 914-302-3076 and its address as 2026 Saw Mill River Road.
• Yorktown Heights Sewer and Drain lists its phone number as 914-302-3077 and its address as 2006 Crompond Road.
• Yorktown Plumbing Company lists its phone number as 914-302-3078 and its address as 334 Underhill Ave.
Though most addresses listed above are legitimate, there are no such businesses at any of them, many of which are well-known office buildings and shopping centers within the town of Yorktown. For example, 366 Downing Drive (Yorktown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling) is the Turco’s shopping center and 2026 Saw Mill River Road (Yorktown Heights Plumbing and Heating) is the Roma Building.
Three of the companies have active websites: Yorktown Plumbing and Heating (yorktownplumbingandheating.info), East Main Street Plumbing Company (eastmainstreetplumbingcompany.com), and Yorktown Heights Plumbing and Heating (yorktownheightsplumbingandheating.info). All of the typo-laden websites provide scant details about the respective companies, use stock images and contain similar language.
When dialed, all of the phone numbers connect to a similar automated answering service.