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Contractor Scam: Woman and dying husband victimized
Sunday, 02 January 2005

Contractor Scam: Woman Still Waiting on Dream Home
You do your research and check him out, but he still takes your money and runs…after giving him $14,000 for materials, she says he disappeared...

Contractor Scam: Woman Still Waiting on Dream Home
Natalia Zea
News 4 WOAI 12/30/2004 
Watch this story...

Imagine hiring a contractor to turn your house into your dream home.
Mary Alice Mendez showed us what one contractor has done to her home.
“That was my kitchen right here,” she said as she pointed to the rubble. “He ripped off the cabinets and the kitchen sink.”
This shell of a house used to be Mary Alice's home.
“This was a dining area,” she says sadly. “There was a wall right here.”
But now a torn up ceiling, ripped out walls and damaged floors are what's left.
She says contractor, Raul Castillo, gutted her home after she hired him to make her home accessible for her disabled husband. He's dying of cancer.
“I don't know what to do anymore,” she says. “It's like I have to start over.”
She says she called the Better Business Bureau, checked his references and had him sign a contract.
“I thought I did everything,” says Mary Alice.
But after giving him $14,000 for materials, she says he disappeared. She hasn't heard from him in four months.
“I just don't believe people are out there doing these things,” she says.
So we went looking for Castillo. We checked several of his addresses. But no one had seen him. His former landlord tells us he moved out four months ago. They're looking for him too.
“The owner says he just moved. He said he didn't pay the rent or something. He just moved,” a neighbor told WOAI.
We called all his listed numbers with no luck.
“It's going to take a while to re-do this,” Mary Alice says.
Now she’s saving money to rebuild her home, again. And she hopes this never happens to you, “The only thing I have to say is not to be trusting like I was.”
Watchdog groups say the best way to protect yourself is to check whether a contractor is licensed with the city. Just pick up the phone and call the city at (210) 207-8263 or check the city online database of licensed contractors at SanAntonio.gov.

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