RALEIGH — A Robeson County man is being sued by N.C. State Attorney General Josh Stein for allegedly running a “sham” timber company and ripping off Ellerbe land owners.
The AG’s office announced Thursday that it had filed suit against Christopher Dillard, of Lumberton, and his company, Dillard Timber LLC, “for deceptive advertisement and consumer practices.”
“We allege Dillard Timber is a sham of a business that rips off consumers,” Stein said in a press release. “I’m taking Mr. Dillard to court to prevent him from harming others.”
Stein said the case was brought to his attention by Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Moore, an Ellerbe native who currently represents Richmond County.
According to the legal complaint filed in Wake County Superior Court, Dillard advertised his services in the south central region of the state, saying that he could get “top prices” for pine and hardwood timber.
(See a copy of the complaint attached to this story.)
However, Stein says that Dillard owned no logging equipment, had no employees and his alleged business wasn’t registered with the Secretary of State’s office.
“Instead, after luring in customers with misleading advertising for his nonexistent business, Dillard contracted with third parties to perform the services,” a press release from the AG’s office reads. “Customers were left without options when jobs were not performed completely or as promised.”
According to the complaint, Dillard was hired in November 2017 by Herman and Mary Hall — who own a 79-acre farm in Ellerbe — to clear cut and sell the timber on their land, which was then to be replanted with trees.
The contract reportedly stipulated that the land was to be cleared by June 1, 2019.
Loggers came to cut the timber in 2018, but only “harvested the most valuable timber and left the rest behind,” and failed to remove the logging debris, according to the complaint. The loggers had reportedly promised to come back with a chipper — but never did.
The Halls allegedly tried to contact Dillard, who never completed the work, leaving the couple to contract with another company to finish the job “and fix the mess” left on their property.
Dillard’s contracted rates for pine and hardwood pulp were allegedly 50-80% below market value.
The complaint also states that records show the Halls were not paid for at least one truckload of timber.
The Halls filed a complaint with the AG’s office in September 2020 and the case was investigated by the Consumer Protection Division.
Dillard is also facing similar accusations in another lawsuit in Bladen County.
In addition to restitution for the consumers, attorneys fees and civil penalties, Stein is seeking to prevent Dillard from operating or advertising a timber business in the state.
Stein is also seeking other potential victims of Dillard’s alleged fraud.
“If you or someone you know is also a victim of this defendant, please file a complaint with my office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or ncdoj.gov/complaint.”