Contractor accused of cheating homeowners out of thousands of dollars exposed

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DENVER -- A FOX31 Denver investigation exposes a Colorado contractor accused of ripping off unsuspecting home owners by allegedly taking thousands of dollars for work that was not completed.

Area home owners found the contractor on Craigslist. In his ads, contractor Darrell Stone claims he is licensed, insured and reliable.

“I am a 34 year pro. We are insured and bonded contractors. Talk to my references, every one of my references gave me money up front,” Stone said to our undercover employee. But victims say there is another side to this contractor that is revealed only after he is paid a large deposit.

“Belligerent and violent and nasty” are the words Warren Petracek used to describe Stone.

Petracek signed a contract with Stone to replace his siding and gutters.

Stone required more than $7,600 up front.

Soon after the work started, Petracek noticed a big problem -- there was a gap between the gutter and the roof.

Petracek did what a lot of homeowners would do. “I asked him to firm them up,” Petracek said.

That is when Petracek believes Stone got angry and walked off the job.

“He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. The gutters were installed correctly and he was going to make my life a living hell," Petracek said.

Photographs of the work Stone had done tell the story. The pictures show sections of the gutter missing after Petracek said Stone chopped off parts of the gutter with a hacksaw.

“At that point I knew this was going south and he was taking my money south with him,” Petracek said.

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Our investigation uncovered Petracek is just one of at least a dozen customers who claim Stone took their money and ran.

“I felt like I was scammed,” said Petracek, who has hired hired attorney Ross Ziev to file a lawsuit against Stone.

“My client’s goal is to make sure that he stops ripping people off,” Ziev said.

Ziev served Stone with a subpoena, but claimed Stone was difficult to track down.

Despite Stone’s Craigslist ads that say he has a license, we have learned Stone is not a licensed contractor.

While there are glowing online reviews about Stone saying “His work at my home and business was exceptional,” FOX 31 Denver obtained Craigslist records that reveal the reviews came from Stone’s email.

“This is his M.O. This is what he does. He takes large deposits and then moves on to the next unsuspecting victim," Ziev said.

Maro Casparian, with the Denver District Attorney’s consumer fraud division, told us that a contractor who requires a large deposit should raise a red flag among potential customers.

“You should never pay for anything up front," Casparian sai.

He also urged consumers to check out their contractor by searching rating web sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

In Stone’s case, he has an “F” rating with the BBB due to unresolved complaints.

Experts also recommend that you get a permit before starting the job.  This will require the city to inspect the work when it’s finished.

“I know a lot of people try to work around permits, but permits are there for the consumer’s protection as well as the city as well as your home," Casparian said.

Contractors are not regulated in Colorado. If you want information about a contractor, contact your county building department.

Some counties offer license and permit information online.

We tried to reach Stone, but when he failed to return our phone calls, we set up a rental property with cameras and left Stone a message requesting a remodel estimate.

Stone responded right away and arrived on time to review the request.

Within minutes, he told our employee about his payment policy. Stone said, “It’s fifty percent of the job is paid up front.”

During the meeting, we asked Stone to respond to the allegation that he was a scammer.

"I don’t respond to that at all. I’m not a scammer," Stone told us.



  • Anonymous

    Not sure how many contractors will work without a deposit since contractors are routinely ripped of by consumers too. I wouldn’t expect someone to lay money out up front to improve my home, but I also wouldn’t go to Craigslist or take the lowest bidder on the job. You get what you pay for.

  • josh kent

    as a small handyman i also ask for a small deposit but not half . ive been ripped off and what recourse do i have but small claims court. its not like ill go rip out a sprinkler system. what this guy was doing is wrong .. your not allways going to see eye to eye with a homeowner but you need to either finish the job or give some of the money back if both partys decide to part ways..i also ad on craigslist so people out there please dont assume everyone is trying to rip you off

  • Jesse

    Stone got us as well. Walked off with over $12k to finish second half of basement, and never came back. Then, his subcontractors all showed up (Sheetrock, electrician, plumber) and claimed Stone never paid them as he said he would. We had to re-pay them, again. All told, we lost $16k, and he did the same to others here in Stapleton. This is criminal, and I guess our family learned the hard way. Its a shame, as that is devastating to us. The kicker is this, he was very nice and even let our 3 little kids watch him work on some things, though none of it was up to code. Can’t believe he is still in town, or that nobody has “confronted” him. Stay away!.

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