Peoria homeowner says fake contractor disappeared with $2,600 deposit

Ex-con was supposed to install driveway pavers over a year ago
After Louis Trujillo paid Armando Bello-Place $2,600 to start the job, the guy took off and hasn’t been seen in more than a year.
Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 5:30 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 4, 2023 at 6:13 PM MST
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PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Louis Trujillo says he once he discovered this Peoria neighborhood with new homes, he bought one. “We just love the community,” Trujillo said. “We love the area. We’re close to Lake Pleasant. We’re 20 minutes from the boat ramp.”

He keeps all his toys, including a pair of side-by-sides, in his backyard. Once he closes his RV gate, Trujillo can haul everything out using his gravel driveway. But recently, he decided it was time to convert it into pavers to match his other driveway. So, Trujillo says he hired a company called Armando’s Concrete and Turf, run by a man named Armando Bello-Place.

According to the contract, the fraudulent contractor said he would install pavers up and down the driveway. After Trujillo paid Bello-Place $2,600 to start the job, the guy took off and hasn’t been seen in more than a year. “I’m a bit of an old-school guy,” he said. “You know, my handshake is my type of word kind of thing. But I was ignorant, I guess. I knew better.”

Trujillo said there have been text messages exchanged, like one from January. “I never heard from you last week Armando. You told me multiple times that I would receive my money back,” read one of the texts. Frustrated, Trujillo reached out to On Your Side to get his money back. “Well, I hope you can find the guy and put him on the spot pretty much,” he said. It didn’t take long to discover that Bello-Place has a past. He spent time in the Arizona Department of Corrections and was released four years ago.

When On Your Side reached out to the fraudulent contractor, he explained that he’d run into some hard luck, including wrecking his truck and being in Mexico for six months. He also apologized for disappearing with Louis’ money and promised to return it by the end of the month. It may sound good, but Trujillo said he’s heard it all before and believes there are other victims. “This is just an assumption, but I’m not the first (victim) and I probably won’t be the last,” he said.