Homeowners say they were duped out of $160,000 by fake contracto - KMOV.com

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Homeowners say they were duped out of $160,000 by fake contractor

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Valerie Falkner and Mathew Bets hired an unlicensed, fake contractor and gave him $160,000. (Source: 3TV) Valerie Falkner and Mathew Bets hired an unlicensed, fake contractor and gave him $160,000. (Source: 3TV)
Falkner and Bets found out the little work Castaldi did do was shoddy and hazardous. (Source: 3TV) Falkner and Bets found out the little work Castaldi did do was shoddy and hazardous. (Source: 3TV)
A licensed contractor said Castaldi removed a weight bearing wall that supports the roof. (Source: 3TV) A licensed contractor said Castaldi removed a weight bearing wall that supports the roof. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

A Phoenix couple had big plans for their newly purchased home but a fake contractor spoiled their dream.

"We were really excited to see it because it's a mid-century modern architecture,” said homeowner Valerie Falkner. 

Falkner and Mathew Bets say they bought pretty much the perfect central Phoenix home. All it needed, they say, was a little TLC.

“We knew it needed a lot of work and we were going to turn it into our dream home in Arizona,” said Falkner.

The couple bought the house in August and immediately started plans to remodel.

And, that's when they came across an unlicensed, fake contractor named Michael Castaldi who runs a company called Reliant Architectural Interiors.

“We told him that our budget was about $150,000,” said Falkner. 

It's an amount that certainly got the attention of Castaldi because not long after being hired, he started gutting the house. At the same time, he was also asking for a lot of money so he could start ordering materials like cabinets, appliances and countertops.

“We wanted to trust him because we didn't know what we were doing,” said Bets. 

According to the couple, Castaldi did do some work to gain their confidence, like knocking down interior and exterior walls and he did do a couple of bathrooms.

And even though Castaldi was asking for more money, the couple realized all the items he reportedly ordered actually never showed up.

Why? Because he never used the money to order anything. So, Falkner and Bets started adding up all the money they had handed over.

“This point in January, when I finally figured everything out we had given him $160,000,” said Falkner. 

Finally, good 'ol Castaldi vanished and never returned, forcing the couple to hire an experienced, licensed contractor to finish his mess.

That's when Falkner and Bets found out the little work Castaldi did do was shoddy and hazardous.

For example, the fake contractor removed a weight bearing wall that supports the roof.

“It's important to us to address this right away because we're afraid the Bets family is at risk of this caving in on them,” said licensed contractor Marcos Serna of Vive Construction

3 On Your Side called and emailed Castaldi numerous times, but he never responded.

So, we went to his Scottsdale apartment. But even after leaving a business card, the fake contractor never contacted 3 On Your Side.

However, we did discover Castaldi has a colorful history.

He declared bankruptcy back in 2011 and in 2016 his wages were being garnished due to a $554,000 judgment against him. Falkner and Bets say Castaldi has really turned their lives upside down.

“It's been a nightmare, it's been an absolute nightmare,” said Falkner. 

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors is currently investigating Castaldi and his company. Bets and Falkner are working with that licensed contractor to get their house safe. If there's an update we'll let you know.  

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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