By: Chris Nagus, News 4 Investigates
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- News 4 set up an undercover sting and busted a local business owner trying to get new business, all while leaving a trail of angry customers behind.
The sting was set up in a home located in St. Louis County. News 4 was looking for Andrew Kirchhoefer, the owner of Gateway Construction Solutions, who had allegedly ripped off thousands from people who hired him for a job.
Kirchhoefer came to the house, unknowing that it was a fake bid for remodeling work. When he arrived, Kirchhoefer thought he found a new customer.
That’s when News 4 let him in on why he was really there. The investigates team showed him a list of complaints from people who paid him a lot of money for work and asked when he would pay them back.
“We are in legal with all of them,” Kirchhoefer said.
The situation is complex.
“I can’t go to sleep. I don’t drink, but I have to drink to go to sleep thinking about him,” Jack Kim, a customer, said. “It raises my blood level.”
Kim paid Kirchhoefer’s company, Gateway Construction Solutions, nearly $12,000 for a new garage that was never built. The architect hired to design the garage didn't get paid by Kirchhofer, which means Kim is now faced with a possible lien for something he didn't even get.
Kim's not the only one who got ripped off.
Another customer paid Kirchhoefer $5,200 for a down payment and claims no work has been done. But when confronted, Kirchhoefer makes it seem like it’s never his fault.
“We ran through the city and it got denied they were warned about that,” Kirchhoefer said.
So, where was the money?
“I don’t work for free. I did all this upfront work for them,” Kirchhoefer said.
But the customers say he didn’t do any work. He even called one of his former clients, “a liar.”
During the set up appointment with a News 4 producer, Kirchhoefer’s own project manager, Greg, said he’s witnessed all kinds of red flags.
“I haven't trusted him since day one,” Greg said.
And that's from a guy who's supposedly on Kirchhoffer’s team.
“Breaches of contract, being shady with customers, taking large sums of down payments,” Greg said.
The day after the confrontation, Greg reached out to say Kirchhoefer wasn't going to pay him.
Then, another twist.
Here’s how Kirchhoefer advises potential clients when it comes to the money:
“For something this size we route it through a title company,” Kirchhoefer said to the undercover producer.
Some homeowners claim they deposited tens of thousands of dollars into accounts controlled by a title company. But after firing Kirchhoefer, they claim they couldn't get their money back, because Kirchhoefer wouldn't sign a release.
Kirchhoefer’s company has an ‘F’ with the Better Business Bureau.
“What am I? A charity?” Kirchhoefer said.
He does get an ‘A+’ for excuses.
“All I can say if we’re going to paint half-truths on stuff all you’re going to get is half-truths,” Kirchhoefer said.
And his project manager didn’t come to his aid.
“I don't know if he's a con, but I think he's a con,” Greg said.
Kirchhoeffer followed up with News 4 with a long email disputing everyone. He also said he's been in the process of closing his business since December, which seems strange because the News 4 appointment with him was in January.
But in the end he did make good on his promise.
According to his website, he is no longer in business, at least not for residential projects.
But, in business or not, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office is now investigating several consumer complaints against Kirchhoefer. The Attorney General’s Office would like to hear from anyone else with complaints against Kirchhoefer. Complaints can be made by clicking here or by calling 1-(800) 392-8222.
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