The owner of an Ottawa snow removal company that attracted hundreds of customer complaints is facing criminal charges.

Ottawa police have charged Anthony Putinski of Tony's Snow Blowing with 17 counts of fraud under $5,000 and 17 counts of possessing proceeds obtained by crime under $5,000.

Police say they received several complaints of poor service, no service and fraudulent business practices involving the local snow removal company.

Police are reminding Ottawa residents to be cautious and say people should do some quick research before signing contracts:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau
  • Do an Internet search of the company
  • Contact the municipal licensing department
  • Talk to other people about the company
  • Ask the company for references and call or e-mail those references

Tony's Snow Blowing issued a statement on the company's website in December to inform customers of suspended service due to equipment failure.

"The brakes on our tractors have given out and our operators have been going through red lights, damaging property and in some cases; vehicles," read the statement. "We have been lucky so far as these problems have not caused personal injury to our clients, the public and/or our operators."