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Queen Creek couple loses $4,750 cash to fake contractor

Juan Hernandez has been asking David Smeal to return his hard-earned money for six months.
Updated: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:45 PM MST
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QUEEN CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Juan Hernandez says his favorite room in the house is the kitchen. “Whoa, we got some good chicken,” Juan says as he shows 3 On Your Side prepping dinner. Simply put, Hernandez enjoys cooking. But what he doesn’t enjoy is looking at his broken-down kitchen cabinets. Even his drawers need to be replaced. “Oh, this one is bad. This drawer holds my utensils.”

So, Hernandez and his wife worked hard and saved up enough money to remove the old cabinets and replace them with something new. And they found a guy who bragged he was the best contractor for the job.

“Who did you hire to do the cabinets?” 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked. “A guy named David Smeal,” he said.

And David Smeal? He’s a fake contractor who likes posting pictures of himself online. But he apparently doesn’t like installing cabinets because he demanded more than $4,750 from Hernandez to start the cabinet job and never returned.

“I paid him all cash,” Hernandez said, shaking his head. “I paid $4,750.”

Hernandez has been asking Smeal to return his hard-earned money for six months, but Hernandez says Smeal never answers his phone, and he doesn’t know where he lives. But 3 On Your Side discovered he lives in Mesa. We rang the doorbell numerous times, but Smeal never came to the door. However, after Harper left his business card, Smeal called to discuss the $4,750 he took from Hernandez.

“What did you do with the money?” Harper asked. “Life kind of ate it up. Like I said, business was bad. We all got COVID. We all got sick and had to get bills paid,” Smeal said.

“So, as they say, you robbed Peter to pay Paul?” Harper asked. “Pretty much,” Smeal said, seemingly proud at what he had done.

And if that’s not bad enough, it gets worse. Smeal said he had to drop the call because he was on a road trip. “A road trip?” Harper asked shockingly. “I guess business isn’t too bad if you’re taking a road trip. Are you kidding me? Harper asked.

“No,” Smeal said. “I guess you don’t know all the facts, so just keep assuming all you like.”

David Smeal went on to say he’ll do his best to return the $4,750, and he never even apologized. “It’s a shame. I don’t know how you sleep at night,” Harper told Smeal. “Try Melatonin,” Smeal chuckled. “It helps.”

As for Hernandez, he says taking his family’s money and ghosting him like Smeal did is no laughing matter. “That money goes a long ways. We could do so much with that. We have three kids. And we work on our house when we have a little extra. And now that little extra is gone,” Hernandez said.

A complaint has been filed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. 3 On Your Side will let you know what happens in a follow-up report.