State officials warn about contractors who scam homeowners out o - KPTV - FOX 12

State officials warn about contractors who scam homeowners out of thousands of dollars

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Jose Alvarez-Guerrero (KPTV) Jose Alvarez-Guerrero (KPTV)
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

State officials are warning homeowners about contractors looking to scam them out of thousands of dollars this summer.

The Oregon Construction Contractors Board says a man who worked on Portland area homes is now at the top of their Buyer Beware List. He's racked up more than $100,000 dollars in state fines.

The CCB tells FOX 12 it has received 27 different complaints from homeowners about Jose Alvarez-Guerrero, but they believe there's likely three times that many people who have yet to come forward.

Many who say he took their money and never finished the job he was hired to do.

"I hate to say it, but the guy is very good at what he does. He should be in sales," said homeowner Sam Aiello. "He should be selling something legitimately."

The backyard patio of Aiello's southwest Beaverton home is finally paved and finished. A sight he wasn't sure he'd ever see. It took two contractors to finish the job. He says the first one Alvarez-Guerrero skipped out on him halfway through the project.

Aiello says Alvarez-Guerrero was walking their neighborhood one day and noticed he was doing the work on their patio himself. He offered to help for a fee.

"We got to talking and he said this was his profession and he showed me pictures of his work on his cell phone," said Aiello. "We walked all around and we started talking about how to do it and what he would do and it just started right there."

The homeowners gave Alvarez-Guerrero some money up front to do the job and he got to work right away.

Days later, they say Alvarez-Guerrero started asking for more money and eventually came up with excuses not to come to work. At one point, he claimed to be in the hospital. The homeowners got suspicious and confronted him over the phone.

"Once he realized we were on to him he stopped answering our calls," said homeowner Hildie Oliver.

After calling police, they soon realized Alvarez-Guerrero was well known around the CCB.

"There could be as many as 100 victims," said CCB Enforcement Program Manager Stan Jessup.

Jessup says the board first heard about Alvarez-Guerrero back in 2014. Since that day, Jessup says the unlicensed contractor has racked up more than $100,000 dollars in state fines for working on homes in the Portland area.

"He's a person transient in nature, we've served him personally, we've served him in jail, we've served him in all kinds of situations, but they're civil penalties obviously, he just doesn't pay them," said Jessup.

Alvarez-Guerrero was arrested and accused of running contracting scams on numerous homeowners. He has since been released from jail.

The CCB says it continues to take calls from homeowners wanting to file complaints against him.

"I'm frustrated that he's out of jail," said Jessup. "Working as a contractor without a license is a Class A Misdemeanor, but quite honestly police, law enforcement and the DA's office have a lot bigger fish to fry than chasing misdemeanor violations."

Alvarez-Guerrero is now listed as number two on the board's predatory contractor Buyer Beware List, a new list posted to a website the CCB established to warn consumers about predatory contractors.

The CCB urges homeowners to always make sure they're doing business with a licensed contractor and to check references before signing any contract, or making any payments.

"Had we just went to the internet, we would have found all of that stuff," said Oliver.

Lessons the homeowners learned the hard way.

The CCB says it's good to talk to friends and neighbors about contractors they've hired in the past to find someone that's trustworthy to do the job, or go to a supply store and ask for contractors they'd recommend.

They also suggest going through a big box store like Home Depot, or Lowes for home repair projects because even though they hire out for the job, if there's a dispute over the work, they're more likely to want to take care of it and have the financial backing to do so.

The CCB stressed that the single most important thing to do is to check for a contractor's license, make sure it's still active and make sure the name on that license matches the name of the person you're hiring.

People can do that by going to their website: www.oregon.gov/CCB/Pages/index.aspx

To view their Buyer Beware List visit: www.oregon.gov/ccb/pages/buyer-beware.aspx

FOX 12 tried to track down Alvarez-Guerrero for comment on this story, but was unable to find him.

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