SANDY SPRINGS, GA — Elizabeth Smith, Gloria Hernandez and Jessica Hanna were complete strangers until they learned they were all scammed by a North Georgia couple accused of posing as interior decorators and promising to do various projects they had no intention of completing.
Now, these three women are coming together to warn metro Atlanta residents about the husband and wife team who they say bilked tens of thousands of dollars from them as part of their crimes. Randy and Ken Hall, of Sautee Nacoochee, are accused of posing as decorators and submitting advertisements on websites and Facebook publicizing their services. However, these residents are sounding the alarm that the Halls are not who they seem and are only out to make a quick buck.
The three residents, Jessica Hanna of Brookhaven, Gloria Hernandez of Milton and Elizabeth Smith of Sandy Springs, all shared their stories with Patch. Hanna came in contact with the Halls through a Facebook page advertising furniture for sale while Hernandez met the couple through a realtor for a house listed for sale. For Smith, she met Randy Hall through an interior decorating exchange page where the woman allegedly posted pictures of her decorating work. Smith said she hired her to oversee the decor for her daughter’s wedding, but "she never delivered."
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Hanna told Patch she shelled out thousands of dollars for carpentry work, along with handing over money for furniture, curtains and lighting fixtures she ordered for a remodeling project at her home. Of course, Hanna said those items were never delivered, adding Randy Hall made several excuses as to why the products were not showing up on time as promised.
Hernandez said she was trying to fix up a home in Milton where she and her mother planned to move into. She ordered items such as lamps, doors and appliances for the house. However, Hernandez had to take a trip out of the country and "that’s when they took advantage" of the situation, she said. The Halls offered to help and supervise the project while she was gone.
Hernandez said the lamps never showed up to the house, and she wasn’t even allowed inside the home to see how the kitchen cabinet installation was going.
"There was always an excuse as to why they were not there," she said of the items she ordered, adding she ended up placing an order for a new door herself. For Smith, her situation turned out to be a disaster for her daughter’s special day.
"We had an empty floor on the day of our daughter’s wedding," she said.
Hanna said she gave the Halls money and started the demolition for the project at her home. However, the demolition was done, but the remodeling never got underway. When she pressed Randy Hall about the status of her project, Hanna said the woman could not provide proof of orders that she was supposed to submit. A year and half into the project and the family was left with "absolutely nothing" to show for the hard-earned money they spent.
Another peculiar situation also didn’t sit well with the Brookhaven resident. Hanna said while she was coping with the sudden death of her parents in November 2015, Randy Hall showed up and tried to coerce her to hand over more money for more renovations "to make me feel better." She said Hall promised her family magazine coverage if they provided more money. Fortunately, the Hannas declined to move forward with that proposal.
Smith began to suspect something was wrong, so she did some research. She learned Randy Hall was convicted of felony theft by conversion in 2014 and was serving five years on probation when she engaged in her latest alleged scam. Hernandez said she also became suspicious when it was time for the cabinets to be installed at the house. Hernandez said she showed up at the home, and noticed the progress — or lack thereof — taking place at the Milton residence.
Fed up with the lack of movement on her project, Smith reported the incident to Sandy Springs police. However, she said the detective working the case informed her it was a civil matter. Undeterred, Smith went to the Fulton County Magistrate Court and was able to obtain a warrant for the couple’s arrest. Hernandez filed an incident report with the Milton Police Department.
Spokesperson Capt. Charles Barstow said the Halls have been charged by Milton detectives with conversion of payments for real property improvements stemming from Hernandez’s 2017 case.
"We have been in contact with other victims," he added. "However, of those people we were in contact with either they were not residents of Milton and the crime committed did not take place in Milton’s jurisdiction or they were within our jurisdiction, but the statute of limitations on the crime they were victims of had run out and we were not able to charge the Halls with that crime."
Those who fell in the latter category opted to pursue civil remedies before contacting police or "were advised how to pursue civil remedies," Capt. Barstow added.
One resident won a civil suit against the Halls, but they have yet to pay up for their alleged crimes. In her research, Smith said she’s come across several more people who have also been victimized by the Hall, who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in September 2017.
According to the filing, the Halls list several "clients" of their services as creditors. The filing shows the Halls owe Smith and her husband, Ed, $10,500, and the Hannas $28,000. Smith also said the Halls are being investigated for bankruptcy fraud for not listing all of their creditors in their petition.
Police eventually took Ken Hall into custody in early March. For her part, Randy Hall remained on the run until she was booked into the Fulton County Jail on Tuesday, April 17.
Hernandez expressed frustration that the Halls have been able to fly under the radar of the justice system. The couple also owes Hernandez $77,000 related to a civil suit stemming from the failed home project, but have not doled out a dime.
"It’s unfortunate, but I thought the law would be respected," she added. "These people seem to be getting away with murder and nothing happens to them. It’s like a game."
One Alpharetta resident lost $30,000 in cash stemming from a redecorating project. He won a small claims judgement of $15,000, but the Halls have not paid him any money, Smith said. One Marietta resident lost more than $50,000 and has taken out warrants in Cobb County for the couples’ arrest.
Hanna, who has taken out warrants in DeKalb County for the coupe’s arrest, said she won’t hire anyone to do work again without seeing recent references and up-to-date business licenses. She also said the Halls have victimized large businesses and others for smaller amounts, but the companies don’t want to deal with the hassle of going after them for restitution and have written off the losses.
Smith added that Randy Hall was even a childhood friend of some of her victims. She also pressed local police and the District Attorney’s office to do what they can to stop the Halls from targeting other unsuspecting residents. She also said victims in the case have collectively lost $1 million due to the Halls’ schemes.
"This is not small change," she added.
Patch reached to the attorney representing the Halls. Darryl Cohen, an Atlanta-based lawyer, declined to provide a statement over the phone or via email to Patch about the allegations made against his clients.
Image via Fulton County Jail