So I hired a contractor off craigslist.com to do 2 bathroom remodels in my home. He came and gave me a great estimate and after having numerous others come out, we chose him. We signed a contract and he stated he had a license(681215). He then took me to a home he was still working on to show me his tile work. The home was beautiful and the tile work was lovely. He then also showed me numerous pictures of previous jobs he had done. He also had a website which conveniently was taken down the day he "disappeared". The website was www.phxcabinets.com his partner has a VERY similar website called www.bacabinets.com. So I thought this guy was legit. I paid him half of the $5700 up front. I now know this was ridiculous.
So the first day he was due to show up, he was 3 hours late, I called him numerous times and finally blocked my number and called again. Guess what? He picked up. He was absolutely shocked to hear my voice and proceeded to tell me that he was just about to call! Yea sure. He came to my house 2 hours later with some story that his ex-wife had run into his garage door in the middle of the night. I felt sorry for him and his situation and told him that I wanted additional information if he was to have the job.
I copied his CA state I.D. card, his car's license plate number, and some license for his cabinetry business. The next day he showed up on time and brought a hispanic man with him to do the tear out of the bathroom. The hispanic man did all the work! For 3 days.
Next, the contractor whose name is James Allen Jordan and supposedly lives in San Francisco brought in his "business partner". His name is Steve Klimowski. He came in and out with James and did some small things. He eventually installed 2 recessed lighting cans. By now it had been a week and the first bathroom was supposed to be finished. James told me that the tile was on backorder and could be picked up next week.
So after the weekend, on Monday, James never showed up. Numerous calls and No response. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. So Tuesday morning I continue to call and after a couple rings he forwards my call to voicemail, just like he had done before. About 15 minutes late I then call James on a blocked number . Guess what. He picks up! Once he heard my voice, he hung up. That was the last straw for me. I knew that I had just been taken. But It definitely does not end here sadly.
I looked through the invoices James had given me for tile, a seamless shower door, and a granite counter top. I called the company ( Da Vinci Tile in San Mateo) and gave them the Invoice number. Guess what, the invoice is a fake, it was just a quote. No one ever paid for the tile despite the large Red stamp across the invoice that said "paid". I faked the tile company the invoice and they told me that they do not use stamps and basically that this paper was just a quote not an actual invoice.
The same happened with the shower door. The funny part was it wasn't until he didn't show up did I notice that the invoice from the shower company and the invoice from the tile company had the same "PAID" stamp. Stupid me!
Now for some twists to the story. So while doing the remodel he took me to East Star Building Supply In Sunnyvale. I purchased a custom vanity and a marble top from them. So I called the company and asked if they remembered who I was and if they knew the contractor. They did know who he was and said he had done business with them before. Although they did elude to the fact that he had some type of troubles before. They told me they had the same number to reach him and would try to reach him as well. They also gave me the number to his partner which I did not have previously. I proceeded to call his partner who did not answer until about 5 hours later and numerous calls later. He told me he had no idea what was going on and that he hadn't talked to James since they were at my home. He stated that this behavior of not showing up was typical. He also stated that he had never heard of James making up fake invoices. He knew he was unreliable but not fraudulent.
Steve continued to state that he was actually not James partner. Also he said that the address on the contract was his and not James. James apparently had no business and was trying to use his friends address. Steve then became concerned that he was now very involved in this situation. I still do not trust Steve. Steve stated that they were just business friends and that they had thrown each other jobs for the past 3 years. I asked where James actually lived and he did not know an exact address.. Gee ....
So after that I decided to go back to the home where James took me the first day I met him. Upon arrival there were some other contractors there doing there own work. I talked with one and he stated that he knew of James but did not know him personally. He also stated that James never finished the job and was not answering calls as well.
So hear I sit, I have filed a police report. I have his name, a possible address, a photo copy of a CA I.D. card, his finger print from when he cashed my check and the bank, and his license number off his car. I will find him.
But how do I start to do this? How do I file a small claims case? Can I include his friend Steve in case?
In total I am out $5,250. ($2750 for the 1/2 deposit, $1300 for a non-existent shower door, and $1200 for non-existent tile)
If anyone has any advice or a similar situation your help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for reading.