WADDELL, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Rick Smith is a lot happier these days, and he says he owes it all to 3 On Your Side. "3 On Your Side never quit on us," Rick said. "And you guys stayed in touch with us. So, thank you! Thank you so much, 3 On Your Side, for sticking through this with us."
3 On Your Side eventually reached him on the phone, where he gave all kinds of excuses for abandoning both Smith's and Gonzales' projects.
In a previous 3 On Your Side report, Rick explained how he hired a fake contractor named Jose Flores, who runs a small business called Iron Horse Welding. Rick paid Jose Flores $3,800 to install a decorative wrought iron fence in his front yard. But after taking the money to start the project, Rick says Jose Flores kept the cash and abandoned the job.
He's not alone; Melissa Gonzales says she also paid Jose Flores to do some backyard projects like replacing a front gate with a new one. But once again, he vanished. "So, I thought I couldn't trust him," Melissa said about Jose Flores.
Frustrated, both homeowners contacted 3 On Your Side. "We contacted 3 On Your Side," Rick said. "We contacted you, Gary, and we want something done."
I managed to get a hold of Jose Flores and Iron Horse Welding. Flores gave me all kinds of excuses why he kept the two homeowners' money and disappeared, but he promised to make things right.
"Well, he was worried," Rick told 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper. "He was worried because he called me a couple of times and told me,' Hey can you tell Gary to give me a chance?"
Well, here's the update. After 3 On Your Side's found Jose Flores, he returned to Melissa's home and finished the job he was paid to do. She took pictures showing 3 On Your Side the new gate, along with sliding garage doors that were finally installed.
In home surveillance video, Jose Flores was seen returning to Rick's house, and he returned all the money that he took before vanishing. All $3,800 in cash.
"Did you ever think you would ever see that money again?" Harper asked. "No, I didn't," Rick replied. "There was no way. I had kind of written it off until you, Gary. You helped us get it back."
Before hiring any kind of contractor to do work around your home, always make sure they are licensed. Like I've said before if they're licensed and someone walks off the job, you stand a good chance of getting your money back from the Registrar of Contractor's Recovery Fund.