Fake contractor accepted money but never did post-Irma repairs, police say

Suspect accused of accepting $1,825 payment from victim

PALM BAY, Fla. – A Florida man is accused of accepting a nearly $2,000 payment to make repairs after Hurricane Irma while posing as a licensed contractor, according to the Palm Bay Police Department.

A Hatcher Street homeowner said she gave Roy Cleon Estes III a check for $1,825 on Oct. 5 as a down payment for repairs she needed done on her fence after the storm, according to the report. When Estes first met the victim on Sept. 20, he told her that he was licensed to make repairs, police said.

The victim's husband said they were referred to Estes by his girlfriend, whom they knew.

[READ: How to see if a contractor is licensed to make repairs]

"He never came back and completed the work and she reported it to the Police Department in December," Lt. Steve Bland said.

A search through the Brevard County Licensing Regulation and Enforcement and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation showed that Estes has never been a licensed contractor in Florida, according to the affidavit.

Estes was arrested Monday morning on charges of grand theft and falsely identifying as a contractor. Police said Estes' arrest took several months because he fled to Okeechobee.

Estes is not the only contractor accused of ripping off a Palm Bay customer after Hurricane Irma.

Another man allegedly stole $3,000 from an 86-year-old veteran.

In January, News 6 got results for Donald Hollis by connecting him with a business that replaced his damaged fence for free.

The victims in the latest case, however, said that after paying Estes $1,800, they had to pay nearly $5,000 to another company to finally finish the job.

"It's just a cautionary tale to be aware," Bland said. "Most contractors, you don't have to provide money upfront. Always go with a reputable contractor and business."

Police also recommended asking the contractor to show you their license.

The victims said they made the mistake of not asking.