INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Attorney General has a warning for those seeking to hire a contractor: Never pay someone for an entire project up front.
People across Indianapolis say one man took their money without finishing the work.
"I was looking for someone to take my brick fireplace and tile it kind of modernize it," Daniel Fox, who hired this contractor, said.
Fox found a post on social media.
"I had seen that Jonathan Kirby had posted on Nextdoor that he was a licensed plumber but could do other odd jobs," Fox said.
Kirby came with positive reviews, so Fox asked for a quote and gave Kirby the money to get started.
"He asked for some money up front; I wrote him a check that he cashed that night," Fox said.
Kirby showed up and started to tear the brick out of the fireplace; Fox says Kirby told him the frame would need to be replaced as well.
"That's when the excuses started," Fox said. "He said he would arrive the next evening at which point he completely ceased communication. I never heard from him again."
Fox gave Kirby almost $500 for the project.
For more than a week RTV6 traded emails with Kirby and finally got him on the phone Monday night.
The newsroom asked him about his work on the fireplace.
Kirby said the price for materials was higher than anticipated and that he ended up spending some of the money on a phone bill.
"I had to pay the bill. I didn't have the money for the material," Kirby said. "Instead of calling him back, I just ignored the situation."
"I came in and just didn't finish the job."
Kirby told RTV6 that he's been battling addiction and used some of the money on alcohol.
According to Kirby, he was falling behind on bills and using each job to try and catch up on previous statements.
"It was gonna be a kind of rob Peter to pay Paul type deal," Kirby said. But says he wants to pay people back.
"I wanna make this right because this is not who I am," Kirby told RTV6. "Even if it's something of $50 one week to pay this person, and 50 to another."
Kirby told RTV6 that he made a mistake and that he's tarnished his family name and has one final message:
"I wanna apologize to everyone for everything that's been going on; for everything I had you go through."
The Indiana Attorney General says for any job you hire out you should always get detailed contract that includes the following:
- The price of the job.
- Payment schedule.
- A detailed description of the work and materials (including colors, brand names and patterns).
- Estimated start and completion dates.