3 On Your Side

First-time home buyer ripped off for $2,000

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Kellan Meko got ripped off while trying to hire a landscaper (Source: KTVK) Kellan Meko got ripped off while trying to hire a landscaper (Source: KTVK)
Meko gave $2,000 to a man who never did any landscaping work (Source: KTVK) Meko gave $2,000 to a man who never did any landscaping work (Source: KTVK)
Carlos Barrazo Wade (Source: MCSO) Carlos Barrazo Wade (Source: MCSO)

Kellan Meko will be the first to tell you her backyard is far from looking the way she wants it. 

"Yes, this was going to be my little oasis," she said as she gave 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper a look around her property.

In fact, she says it looks worse now because there's basically junk strewn everywhere including a tire.  

"What's the deal with the tire?” Harper asked. 

"I have no idea,” she replies laughing and shaking her head.

Meko says she can thank one person for her yard looking the way it does. He goes by Carlos Barrazo Wade, who has a mug shot on file with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office following a previous arrest.

Wade claimed to be a talented landscaper who ran a business called Hummingbird Landscaping.  So, Meko hired him back in February. 

"Upon first meeting him, he told me within 10 minutes, that he was proclaiming to be a good Christian man and that I could trust him," Meko said.

Meko then gave that good Christian man $2,000 to start her backyard oasis. 

But after smoothing out some gravel and dropping off that tire, Wade disappeared with all that money Meko gave him.

"What was that $2,000 going to go to?"  Harper asked Meko.   

"That was just a security for him so he knew that I will be paying him," she said.

Meko showed 3 On Your Side the check she gave Wade. And it was a check he didn’t have in his hands very long.  Meko says she checked her bank account 15 minutes after giving it to him, and it was already cashed.

So, whatever happened to Wade?  Well, 3 On Your Side went to a few locations connected to him but we discovered they were simply old addresses, and he had already moved on.

But 3 On Your Side has learned that Wade has a history of vanishing with money. In fact, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors says he reportedly took $11,000 from another victim and did very little work.

As a result, Wade has an arrest warrant out for that unfinished project. It’s something Meko says she wished she would have known before giving him two grand.

With no money and no trust left in anyone, Meko says she's forced to finish the yard doing it herself. 

“I want to learn how to do the pavers and take my time because I only trust myself now,” she said.

“You've been burned so badly you're going to do the yard yourself?” Harper asked. 

"Yep, but I have to do it and get it done," Meko said.

If you hire a contractor to do work around your home, always make sure the contractor is licensed with the State of Arizona. It’s easy and free. Just log on to www.azroc.gov and punch in the contractor’s name. If the contractor is licensed, you stand a great chance of getting your money back from the agency’s recovery fund if you get ripped off.

By the way, when Wade is arrested, I’ll let you know in a follow-up report.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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