Family’s Construction Nightmare Started on Popular Website

A homeowner says a contractor they connected with on a popular website took their money and never came back.

A homeowner says a contractor they connected with on a popular website took their money and never came back.

"I wanted to find somebody trustworthy," Cecilia Pavlou said.

Pavlou says she decided to use HomeAdvisor after seeing the company's commercials.

After using the platform, she says a man who said he owned the company came out to her home and have her a good quote.

She says work on the project started but then abruptly stopped.

She says her daughter did online research of the man they had been giving money to.

"I'm calling to tell you that there is a big problem, a big problem," Pavlou remembered about what her daughter told her.

NBC 6 Responds found Spyridon Mouzakitis does not have a contractor's license. According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, he currently has 10 unlicensed activity cases being investigated by the state.

HomeAdvisor promises to do identity verification, licensing and criminal records searches, and legal searches for civil judgments.

They screen the owner or principal of the business but this does not include people who may come to your home like sales people or associates.

The family says they thought they were handing over money to the owner of the business they found on HomeAdvisor, but it turns out they weren't.

NBC 6 Responds spoke with the owner of the business and he told us he used Mouzakitis as a handyman but was not aware he was taking money for jobs. He offered to fix the Pavlou's damage, but she isn't willing to work with them and our attempts to reach Mouzakitis went unanswered.

When we reached out to HomeAdvisor about the Pavlou's case a spokesperson sent us the following statement,

"We are always disappointed to hear when a customer has an issue with a pro they found on our network. We have been actively working with the homeowner to come to a resolution and Elite Construction is no longer a part of the network."

Marisol Arboleda-Diaz is a licensed contractor and a member of the Builders Association of South Florida.

"You can fall into a situation where you are working with an unlicensed contractor," Arboleda-Diaz said.

She showed us the steps contractors take to enroll as a "Trusted Pro" and warns no screening process is full-proof.

She says homeowners should take more steps than the company does.

She says you should see if a contractor is licensed in the county, if the company has a physical address, and check for any legitimate independent references outside the platform.

Extra-screening that could have protected the Pavlou family.

"We saved for that kitchen for 30 years," Pavlou said.

Pavlou says it will cost them thousands of dollars to fix the damage caused by the unpermitted and unlicensed work done in their home.

"Overwhelmed, because my husband was going to retire but now we have to take out a loan," Pavlou said.

HomeAdvisor's Terms and Conditions states that "HomeAdvisor performs screening solely at the time the service professional applies for membership in the HomeAdvisor Network, and every two years thereafter, and therefore a service professional's information may change or expire over time, and between screenings."

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