Neighbors rally to help 82-year-old Hubbard woman scammed out of - KPTV - FOX 12

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Neighbors rally to help 82-year-old Hubbard woman scammed out of $1,300

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An 82-year-old woman in the Hubbard area says she was scammed out of $1,300 by a man who agreed to build a new fence, took her money and never came back.

Now, neighbors have rallied around Leah Arriaga and they’re turning a very unfortunate situation into an opportunity to help.

Arriaga told FOX 12 part of the fence on the side of her home was knocked down in a wind storm last winter.

A few weeks ago, she came across a man working on a fence nearby so she asked him for a quote.

According to Arriaga, he agreed to the job but said she’d have to pay for materials up front, so she did.

“I wrote him a check for $1,300 and it was the biggest mistake I ever made because he ripped me off,” she said.

Arriaga said the man took down part of her old, rotting fence, then told her he hurt himself and would have to delay the rest of his work.

She said she asked for her money back so she could hire someone else.

“He says OK, well I’ll have to go to the bank. I thought OK. I never heard from him again,” she said. “The neighbor across the street, Doug, saw him a couple of nights later over here at the Hubbard Inn putting hundred dollar bills in the machines. My money! Throwing it in the machines. I don’t even do that!”

She said she reported this to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, but because she signed a written contract the man drew up, deputies told her she’d have to pursue a civil case.

In the meantime, neighbors shared her story on a Hubbard Facebook page, and David Darnell jumped in to help.

“It’d be nice to get the money back from the man who scammed her,” Darnell said. “But in the end, we need to build a fence.”

So, Darnell – and nearly a dozen others – are going to do exactly that.

Saturday morning, they’ll be meeting at Arriaga’s home to rebuild the fence after raising hundreds of dollars for materials online.

They don’t need $1,300 for those materials; they’re doing the job for half that.

“Materials ended up being right at about $600 from the local building yard,” Darnell said. “They were kind enough to contribute what probably amounts to about $150 worth of discount off of that.”

Looking back, Arriaga wishes she would have done things differently, but she’s grateful there are good people willing to help.

“I said how did I get this dumb at 82 years old?” she said, laughing. “You’re supposed to get smarter when you get older, not let somebody scam you.”

FOX 12 is not naming the man who agreed to the job because he has not been charged with a crime.

Arriaga and her neighbors say it turns out he isn’t a contractor at all.

It’s a good reminder for the next time you need some help at home to check with the Better Business Bureau first to make sure the person you’re hiring is a licensed, bonded and insured contractor with a good track record.

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