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Unlicensed contractor takes $28K, says take him to court

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Jose Salas hired Fidel Calderon in February to transform his backyard into an oasis. Jose Salas hired Fidel Calderon in February to transform his backyard into an oasis.
Fidel Calderon Fidel Calderon
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Finding jobs is pretty easy for one man, but actually starting or even finishing the job is the problem.

In fact, 3 On Your Side has confirmed this man has taken about $28,000 from homeowners and didn't do much for that money.

Jose Salas hired Fidel Calderon in February to transform his backyard into an oasis. Salas gave Calderon $4,000 upfront to start the project.

He's not the only one, either. Another homeowner said he gave Calderon $9,800 upfront.

Salas said good ol' Fidel Calderon always has a story for not doing the work for people.

"It's one day after the other -- all excuses," Salas said.

3 On Your Side wanted to find out what Calderon had to say for himself so I went to the trailer park where he lives.

But instead of talking to Calderon, I found myself talking to a family member who threatened to sue me.

And the more we looked into Calderon, the more victims we found.

In fact, 3 On Your Side has confirmed Calderon has taken nearly $28,000 from homeowners and either never showed up or abandoned the job.

I was finally able to talk to Calderon on the phone who boldly told me the homeowners can take him to court to get their money back.

Unfortunately, unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors like Calderon are all over the Valley.

"From time to time, there's going to be someone that absconds with somebody's money," said Jeff Fleetham with the Registrar of Contractors. He said the best way to protect yourself is to, first off, hire a licensed contractor.

"There's a way to get a resolution," Fleetham said. "It's not that problems are always major problems, but even minor things the registrar can come in and help investigate that."

Fleetham also urges consumers to ask for references and do as much research as possible.

"Sometimes people do more due diligence changing their cellphone plan than they do a $20,000 remodel," he said.

As for Salas, he can't believe he was duped into handing over so much money and says he'll never do it again.

"I feel so, kind of, betrayed by this person," Salas said. "People like, you know, us, we work hard. It's not that easy to get that money -- especially for regular people like us."

Calderon certainly doesn't deny taking the money and he doesn't make any bones about it. He said he's not returning it.

When there's an update, and there will be one, I'll let you know.

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