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2 unlicensed contractors accused of scamming South Florida man out of $135K

By Anna McAllister
Updated on: March 11, 2024 / 11:27 PM EDT / CBS Miami

MIAMI – It was a house that was a dream home for John Thomas, who wanted to renovate the property he worked so hard to afford.

“My house was built in 1926, and so it needed some updates,” said Thomas.

Thomas worked with another renovation company and a man with that company gave him two names for contractors to remodel his home.

“I already trusted this guy, I had already been working with him for many months. I thought that these people would be good,”

Luis Gustavo Arvelo Teran and Maria de los Angeles Rosales Solorzano started working on Thomas’s home in October 2022.

“I signed a contract with them right away and I gave them $135,000 check, which was half of the cost of the contract,” said Thomas.

Then Thomas, a member of the United States Airforce, was deployed for six months.

When he returned in the summer of 2023, the couple started the main portion of the renovation.

“They ripped up the floor. Took out all the walls. In essence, the house is just a shell. It’s just the four walls and the roof,” said Thomas.

Thomas had a hunch something was off and checked the permits with the city.

“They forged my signature on a document to change the contractor that was actually associated with them. And at this point I’m realizing that they didn’t actually have a license,” said Thomas.

When Thomas asked the pair to stop working and for his remaining money back, he says they went radio silent.

“I don’t have the money to get my house back in shape. It’s unlivable, I’m still having to pay the mortgage on it. I went on deployments to save up money for the remodel on the house,”

Now, Thomas is staying with a friend while he figures out the next steps.

After months of investigating, the alleged phony contractors were caught and are facing several charges, including a first-degree felony for grand theft by contractor.

“Check the credentials for anyone who is doing anything on your house,” said Thomas.

Police believe Thomas isn’t the only victim, they’re asking anyone who was scammed by this couple to come forward.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Miami Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit at (305) 603-6280 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471- TIPS (4877). 

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