LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A Las Vegas woman thought a man she connected with at church was trustworthy and would give her a good deal on a home remodeling project last year.

Now, she’s out at least $8,000.

“I am stuck right now, no money, no nothing. I had this porch built for my brother who is handicapped for the two of us to enjoy. We didn’t get to enjoy this last year. We didn’t get to go outside of the house. We didn’t get to do that because of what he did to us,” shared Barbara Ojito.

There are problems everywhere on the 66-year-old’s back patio and those you can’t see like a leaky roof. Ojito paid cash, a chunk of her life savings, to fix the issues. Ojito soon found out the hard way the man she hired was an unlicensed contractor.

“He took off with the money. He never came back. He never returned my calls. I went through hell, back and forth to the point where I got sick,” Ojito revealed. Ojito urges homeowners, especially those who are elderly, to avoid the mistake.

“Don’t let this happen to you. Hire somebody that’s got a license,” Ojito pleaded.

“You do not need to be embarrassed. You do not need to be afraid. You do not need to be a victim,” contended Randy Escamilla, Public Information Officer for the Nevada State Contractors Board.

The Nevada State Contractors Board that oversees licenses of legitimate contractors says they hear hundreds of stories just like Ojito’s every year.

“We believe there are many victims of unlicensed contractors who do not know how to call us,” Escamilla explained. They want to hear from those who have been scammed to stop it from happening to others, especially seniors like Ojito.

“The accused unlicensed contractor is Alfred Martin Lagunas. He has been convicted once before for contracting without a license. He is now charged with a gross misdemeanor and if convicted for contracting without a license, he will face a maximum penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to a year in the Clark County Jail,” Escamilla stated.

“I leave everything up to God. I hope he pays for what he did,” Ojito added.

The Nevada State Contractors Board says the unlicensed contractor in Ojito’s case has a March 11 hearing date. They want to remind all homeowners, while an unlicensed contractor might offer a cheap price upfront, not only could they do a bad job, they likely won’t have workers comp insurance. No matter who you hire, never pay in cash and don’t let payments get ahead of work performed.

Hiring a licensed contractor gives homeowners added protections:

· If workmanship issues arise, homeowners have four years to file a complaint with the Contractors Board.

· Recourse up to $40,000 may be available if the contractor fails to correct the work.

· Licensed contractors must demonstrate financial responsibility and undergo a background check and pass trade and law exams.

· Licenses are required for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, or for work needing a building permit.

· Always pay with a check or credit card payable to the company not an individual.

You can check if a contractor has a legitimate license by calling the Nevada State Contractors Board or going to their website. That is also where you can file a complaint for shoddy or incomplete work. They can be reached at 702-486-1100 or visit


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