3 On Your Side

Alert: Unlicensed contractor back to his old tricks again

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Crystal Smith said she gave $700 to Joe Hernandez for new countertops but has not done the job. (Source: 3TV) Crystal Smith said she gave $700 to Joe Hernandez for new countertops but has not done the job. (Source: 3TV)
Pictures of Joe Hernandez, along with numerous consumer complaints claiming to have been ripped off by the guy, are all over the Internet. (Source: 3TV) Pictures of Joe Hernandez, along with numerous consumer complaints claiming to have been ripped off by the guy, are all over the Internet. (Source: 3TV)
Hernandez said Smith's check is in the mail but hasn't shown up. (Source: 3TV) Hernandez said Smith's check is in the mail but hasn't shown up. (Source: 3TV)
Smith never get her money back that Hernandez promised. (Source: 3TV) Smith never get her money back that Hernandez promised. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

When Crystal Smith bought her Avondale home, the first thing she wanted to do was remodel her kitchen.

"I just wanted to do some upgrades. I just hated the hideous colors all these houses came with," Smith told us as she gave us a tour of her home.

And one project Smith had in mind was replacing and installing new, granite counter tops. Her current counter tops, she says, are just old and damaged.

So, she turned to the Internet and came across an ad on Craigslist where a guy named Joe Hernandez said he could install granite countertops at a discounted rate.

If the name and picture look familiar, it's because Hernandez was profiled three months ago for taking $2,200 from a Chandler couple.

[READ MORE: Unlicensed contractor takes $2,200 and abandons job]

In that case, he was supposed to install granite countertops. But, when he returned, the countertops he installed were nothing but cheap Formica that didn’t even fit right.

In fact, the drawers don’t even close properly. He then never returned and disappeared with the couple’s money.

"This drawer is supposed to close and sit underneath this counter here and it won't," said Josh Pridemore, the homeowner.

Well, it looks like Hernandez is back to his old tricks.

According to Smith, she gave the unlicensed contractor $700 in cash as a 50 percent down payment to install new countertops. But, more than a month later, Smith says she hasn't seen him or her money. She says he actually did call one time looking for more money. She refused though and that’s when Hernandez pulled his disappearing act.

Pictures of Joe Hernandez, along with numerous consumer complaints claiming to have been ripped off by the guy, are all over the Internet.

"This is the guy that came to your house," 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked Smith as Hernandez’ picture appeared on a complaint website.

"Without a doubt, that is definitely him," Smith replied.

So, 3 On Your Side called Hernandez. After all, Smith says she's not in the business of handing out money.

“So, what's going on with Chrystal Smith and the $700 that she gave you?" Harper asked.

"I am returning that," Hernandez replied.

When pressed on a date she could expect seeing that money, Hernandez replied, “It's in the mail, she should be having it in the mail anytime."

3 On Your Side has heard the old "check's in the mail" line countless times so we'll see if she actually gets it.

Given Hernandez' track record, Smith says she doubts she'll really get her money back.

"I guess when he meets you and he comes to your house, he makes you feel comfortable and you just can't trust him,” Smith said of Hernandez.

“You trusted him and he sold you a bag of goods?" Harper asked.

"Yes, he sure did," she replied.

Well, not surprisingly, Smith never got her money back that Hernandez promised.

According to online complaints, Hernandez travels frequently between the Phoenix area and El Paso pulling this stunt. Always make sure you hire a licensed contractor when having work done around your home.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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