BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — A Boynton Beach woman called Contact 5 after falling for a home improvement scam on the Nextdoor app.
"After he did the demo, he disappeared on me," Robin DeLuca told WPTV.
She's talking about a contractor who she found on the app to have her bathroom renovated.
"I felt like we jived, and I really trusted him to do the job," she said.
DeLuca said he told her she needed to pay for half of the job, $4,500, upfront. Not too long after she paid him, he stopped showing up.
"He basically just ghosted me. Many emails and texts and my warning that I'm going to take him to small claims court," DeLuca said. "He just never responded."
DeLuca told Contact 5 she moved on and hired another contractor, who started working on the bathroom. However, things didn't work out. She's now searching for a third contractor.
"I am very gun shy about the whole situation about having someone else come into my house. It's really been a struggle," DeLuca said.
She shared her experience with other users on Nextdoor, hearing from dozens of people around South Florida who had the same thing happen to them after finding a contractor on social media.
Alex Domenech in Plantation is one of them. He told Contact 5 he lost $23,000 because of it.
"I decided to go to small claims, which maxed me out at 8, so I did that, had to figure all of that out on my own," Domenech.
He said he is still waiting on that money.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, one of the main signs of a home improvement scam is being asked to pay upfront, along with pressuring you to make an immediate decision. They also warn consumers of door-knocking schemes, where the scammers knock on your door looking for business.
"This new contractor wants half up front, so how do I know he's not going to do the same thing?" DeLuca asked.
DeLuca told Contact 5 she is now in the beginning stages of taking the first contractor to small claims court.
A spokesperson for Nextdoor sent the following statement regarding the matter:
"We believe that proactive education around online safety is key, and have introduced an in-product module to educate neighbors on how to avoid online scams. We also have Help Center articles, like this, that provide tips and best practices around how to remain safe online, as well as various detection and reporting capabilities when scam content arises — this includes neighbors flagging content and automated scam detection capabilities."