Tornado shelter owner is charged

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced the filing of seven felony counts of embezzlement against William Stephens, who owns Tornado King Shelters.

After the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit received multiple complaints of alleged fraud against the Tornado King Shelters company, an investigation was launched into Stephens and his company. Throughout the investigation, agents discovered on multiple occasions the Tornado King received payments for work his company never completed. When victims attempted to contact Stephens’ company, he was unresponsive.

Hunter commended the action of the Consumer Protection Unit.

“We will not tolerate individuals or companies that defraud Oklahomans,” Hunter said.

If convicted, Stephens faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 per count in fines and restitution. Hunter and the Consumer Protection Unit recommend the following consumer tips when individuals consider hiring a contractor:

  • Never pay for the entire job upfront.

– The majority of reputable companies in Oklahoma will install or build without payment until the job is complete.

  • Be suspicious of door-to-door solicitations.

– Get a business card and research the company’s history online. Also, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.

  • Ask trustworthy people for a referral.

– Whenever possible, deal with local contractors who have roots in the community and independently verify addresses.

  • Receive several written estimates from different contractors.

– Ask each contractor for references where they have completed work.