Milwaukee (WDJT) — The pandemic has hit us all hard and now some people say they are taking a second punch. An area contractor could face criminal charges after being accused of taking people’s money and never doing the work.
The victims tell CBS 58 Investigates it is hard to find a contractor during the pandemic with the home repair industry booming. So they were all happy to find Victor Perez, owner of VP Construction. He was available, wrote up seemingly legitimate contracts and even had referrals. But, once he cashed their checks the problems started.
Brittany Swanson sent CBS 58 Investigates pictures of damage and unfinished work says was left behind by contractor Victor Perez.
“I was trying to get the project done because my brother was going through cancer treatments and he was supposed to come stay with us,” Swanson said.
Swanson says she was left with an unfinished project, a mess to clean up and thousands of dollars gone.
“I felt completely taken advantage of,” Swanson said. “He kept not showing up and he was using the pandemic as an excuse.”
Swanson took Perez to court. She won a civil judgement but hasn’t received any of the money. She also found out she wasn’t the only one having problems with Perez.
“[Perez] picked up the check within 2 hours of us signing the contact for the job and that was the last time we heard from him,” said Lisa McNeil, who hired Perez in October.
McNeil says Perez cashed her $1400 check and never did any work.
“So I posted an alert for other people in our trading groups in Menomonee falls and Waukesha county and people started coming out of the woodwork saying they had the same experience,” McNeil said. “All of the people he was victimizing were women.”
McNeil says she learned the references Perez gave her, were fake.
“We later found out that the Facebook referrals that we were getting were actually from his wife and some of his other family members,” McNeil said.
McNeil won a civil case against Perez, but like Swanson, hasn’t received a penny.
CBS 58 Investigates uncovered that Perez owes money in cases in Waukesha, Milwaukee, Washington and Walworth counties.
And now he could face criminal charges.
McNeil filed a police report with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s office and another woman, Angela Dellutri, filed a complaint with Waukesha police.
“Our victim provided him with the down payment of approximately $2000 and he subsequently had no intentions of doing the work for her,” said Waukesha Police Captain Dan Baumann.
Dellutri didn’t want to go on camera but tells CBS 58 Investigates, “This has all cost me extra money and this was the last of my money. I’ve lost my retirement savings with all of this.”
Dellutir also won a civil case against Perez but hasn’t been paid.
Meanwhile Detectives from the Waukesha Police Department and Sheriff’s Office worked together and according to a police report, Perez admitted he took the money and said “once Dellutri began jumping on the bandwagon with the complainants…he stopped communicating with her and intentionally did not do the work or pay her back.”
CBS 58 Investigates went to Perez’s home to get his side of the story. No one answered but we did reach him over the phone. He said he would answer questions but asked us to call back. When we called back, he again asked that we call later. After that, he sent our calls to voicemail and did not return calls or texts.
Police want any other victims out there to know they take these cases seriously.
“If we don’t sit down and advocate for our crime victims in our community, we’re just going to allow dirty contractors to come in and mill around the city and continue to do bad work and it degrades your community,” Capt. Baumann said.
McNeil says she and other victims formed a support group on social media with the goal of preventing any one else from getting scammed.
“We’re hoping there’s enough victims that the DA has no choice but to stop this pattern of theft,” McNeil said.
The two criminal cases were referred to the Waukesha District Attorney’s office on January 15th. The District Attorney tells CBS 58 Investigates in cases like this they usually need 60 to 90 days to make a charging decision.
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