Contractor hired to build wall takes money, disappears

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TEMPE -- A Tempe woman says a licensed contractor has made off with nearly $3,000 of her money. So, she contacted 3 On Your Side.

Now, in most of the cases 3 On Your Side looks into, people are usually ripped off by unlicensed contractors. But that's not the case this time and, unfortunately, there is more than one victim.

Sara Sansone is a mom and she's about to give birth again. So building a block wall around her backyard, she thought, would be a great idea to keep her kids safe.

"Definitely, I would feel more secure," Sansone said. "You can put locks on the gate and have some privacy."

So, Sansone hired a company called Arizona Block Fences and handed over a check to a 64-year-old man named Raymond Flener to start that wall.

Flener dug the footer and put in some rebar but after that, he disappeared with Sansone's money.

"They will not take my calls," Sansone said. "I have two phone numbers and I call them every day."

Arizona Block Fences is owned by a woman named Lisa Flener. In fact, she's the one who signed and deposited that $2,800 check from Sansone.

3 On Your Side has learned that Raymond and Lisa Flener were sued for $34,000 just last year and were slapped with a judgment for that amount. And as of April, they were taken to court and evicted for not paying their rent.

Sansone believes the Fleners' financial situation may be the very reason they abandoned her job and took off with her money.

Sansone is not the only one who says she was ripped off either. The owner of a house in central Phoenix says he was also taken advantage of by Arizona Block Fences.

In fact, the owner tells me he handed over $3,000 to the company, but the job site has also been abandoned.

Arizona Block Fences has a habit of listing only a P.O. box on its paperwork and not a physical address.

"They have a P.O. box so you can't go to an office and ask questions and I can't get a hold of them," Sansone said.

We went to an apartment where we believe the Fleners live, but no one ever came to the door.

Sansone says she's totally disgusted. Not only has she been left without a wall, but with a baby on the way she's also been left broke.

"I can really use that money," she said. "It's a big chunk of change."

First of all, I would never hire a company that refuses to list a physical address anywhere. No address for a licensed contractor should raise a red flag.

Secondly, be cautious about handing money over upfront.

Here's the deal. If you're putting up a block wall, for example, have the contractor drop off the block at your house and then pay for the material.

At least that way if he walks off the job, you have something for your money.