The Watchdog: Owner of the Shutter Factory of Plano wanted in theft

William Clifton Wallace Jr., where are you?

You are magical when it comes to disappearing.

You ran the Shutter Factory for years in Plano, selling shutters, draperies and curtains. You did fine work. “A lifetime of beauty,” your business cards promised. But your business went south a couple of years ago, and it officially closed in early 2012.

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Yet there you were, continuing to behave as if the business existed. You went to people’s houses, measured windows, showed samples, wrote invoices and collected 50 percent deposits.

You collected thousands of dollars in deposits, but then you disappeared. Nobody could find you. Nothing was delivered.

When negative online reviews about your behavior showed up on consumer websites warning others to stay away, a spate of positive comments from fake customers touting your honesty and your expertise appeared.

In February, Collin County authorities issued a warrant for your arrest on theft charges, and you disappeared for good. You lost your Allen home in a foreclosure. Your phone numbers don’t work. You’re 56 years old and in hiding.

Thank you to Mary and Bobby Stark of Dallas for telling The Watchdog about you. They had hired you before in 2008, and you did good work. In June 2012, four months after your state business license was forfeited, you answered their call for another estimate. The Starks paid you $4,400 in a half-deposit. You cashed the check at a Plano convenience store. Then you pulled your disappearing act.

“If there’s anything you can do to help us, it would be so wonderful and so much appreciated,” Mary Stark told The Watchdog. “We worked so very long to save up the money for these shutters, and it just seems that something should be done about this.”

I asked my Watchdog desk associate, Marina Trahan Martinez, to research your legal status. Turns out to be quite a mystery.

Wallace, you’re a wanted man, but authorities are not allowed to say that on the record. The only notice of pending criminal theft charges against you is a brief mention in a Collin County active warrant list. A warrant was issued for your arrest on Feb. 11. The rest of the case against you is sealed. Texas law says that in certain cases, charges cannot be discussed until a suspect is in custody.

I know for sure the case against you is not the Starks’ case. They say they went to the police to complain, but no one ever followed up. So the case involves another customer or customers.

The Starks’ case is for the largest amount of lost funds I could find online. Other customers complain of losing $1,000 or less.

One complainant on the Better Business Bureau website says he lost $427. “He told us the shutters would be installed in six weeks. I have left a number of phone calls and none have been returned. Now you just get a busy signal when you call.”

On another website, a customer writes, “They took my money when they took 50 percent down. … I have been trying for over three months to get my promised shutters for my home.”

At the same time, consumer websites that had negative reviews were flooded with positive comments. In some cases, a batch would be posted on the same day, a possible sign of fakery.

“The job took a little longer than expected but they were over the top with their customer service and did it with a smile,” one writes.

“Bill was very punctual, very knowledgeable and extremely professional,” another writes.

“Bill, it has been a pleasure doing this project with you, and I wish you and your company every success in the future,” goes another.

What future?

The only Shutter Factory business in Texas that has a future, apparently, is the other Shutter Factory owned by Chuck and Sammie Downey in Kerrville. That business has nothing in common except the name.

Even Chuck says he started getting calls for you last year. “People were wanting their money,” Chuck says. “We told them, ‘We’re not him.’”

“A lot of people have been burned by him,” Bobby Stark says.

That’s why I’m taking the rare action of issuing a Watchdog Nation all points bulletin to anyone within eyeshot of this column.

William Clifton Wallace Jr., where are you?

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