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3 On Your Side confronts unlicensed contractor on camera

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The 3 On Your Side had just one thing to go on -- the name on these checks. (Source: 3TV) The 3 On Your Side had just one thing to go on -- the name on these checks. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Saving money can be pretty difficult. But a single mom here in Phoenix says not only was she able to put money aside, she actually saved enough to remodel her kitchen. Things were going great for Kim Gray - until an unlicensed contractor made off with her hard-earned money.

This unlicensed contractor took $2,500.  He never swung a hammer; he never purchased a piece of wood. He simply took the money and disappeared.
   
3 On Your Side caught up with him and confronted him.

We started by looking for Crystal Urena. It’s her name on three different checks Gray wrote to pay for her kitchen remodel.
    
"I've lived in my house for 15 years and I wanted new cabinets, new sink, new countertops," Gray said.

She has slowly made improvements to her house over the years.
   
"I have converted the garage into a bedroom; I have completely redone the master bathroom," she told us. 

Because she and her daughters spend so much time in the kitchen, Gray thought it was the next logical room to remodel.
   
Back in April, she went to Craigslist and found an ad posted by someone named Carlos of Carlos Remodeling.

Carlos went to Gray's house and after taking some measurements, Gray said he gave her a pretty good price.
    
But to get things started, Carlos claimed he needed some money up front.

"He wanted half down before he started the project," she said.

Over the course of a few weeks, Gray handed over three checks totaling $2,500.
   
She admits she thought it was rather odd that Carlos asked for the checks to be made out to Cristal Urena, but she did it.
   
After she did, Carlos and the money vanished.  And her remodeling job?  It never started.

"I work two jobs to make ends meet, and $2,500 is a lot of money to me that I can't afford to lose," Gray said. 

3 On Your Side got involved, but all we had to go on was that ad with the name "Carlos" -- no last name, no address.
   
Even the phone number was disconnected.

We turned to those checks and started looking for the only name we did have -- Cristal Urena.
   
Our investigation took us to a South Phoenix home. That's where we found Carlos the contractor and started asking questions.
   
While he initially gave 3 On Your Side another name, he later admitted that Cristal Urena is his wife.
   
At that point, Carlos' English got a little rusty, and he said he didn't know what I was talking about.

Gary Harper: "You did know something now you don't know anything?"

Contractor: "I don’t know; I don’t understand."

Gary Harper: "Yeah, OK. Well tell her it’s very important and the police will show up next."

Less than 24 hours after this conversation, Gray said $2,500 was delivered to her home.

"He called as soon as you guys found him," she said. "He called me and the guy sounded a little nervous and brought me my money back the very next day." 

Gray said she's thrilled with the outcome. She had been looking for Carlos and her $2,500 for months, but it took 3 On Your Side to make it happen.

"I’m so grateful for you guys," she said. "I thank you so much for your hard work you put in and finding this guy." 

Remember, whenever you hire anyone to do work around your home, make sure he or she is licensed with the Registrar of Contractors. You can check that online
   
That simple step will give you an option for recourse if you get ripped off.

Copyright 2015 3TV (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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