For neighbors, unlicensed contractor's discount turned into years-long nightmare

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More homeowners are coming forward claiming they were scammed by an unlicensed contractor.

They say they paid cash for a discounted construction job that was never finished.

Kailua resident JoAnn Aoki says a contractor approached her two years ago, offering a discount to four homeowners to pour cement on their shared asphalt driveway. The group price was $12,000 and Aoki paid $3,000 in cash.

"We believed that he did talk to the neighbors then we found out he did not," said Aoki.

She said that unlicensed contractor was Ilasia Tuifetoa Kanongataa or Toa of JM Contractor.

Aoki said the work stopped after a series of excuses. Other homeowners had similar complaints.

And two years later, the Kailua easement is still not fixed and it floods went it rains.

"I felt devastated," said Aoki.

Aoki's neighbor, 89-year-old Brian Nakashima, also paid $3,000 cash and says Toa's unfinished work damaged neighborly relationships.

"He (Toa) made it very bad between them (the neighbors) and us," said Nakashima.

On Monday, the contractor told Hawaii News Now other unfinished jobs were due to homeowners not paying him.

"I don't think it's a scam because our intent is to come there and finish the work," said Kanongataa.

He repeated that Tuesday and claimed he is unaware of the string of state citations and complaints against him for unlicensed contracting.

Daria A. Loy-Goto, complaints and enforcement officer at the state Regulated Industries Complaints Office, said the case underscores the importance of making sure contractors are licensed and in good standing.

"It really seems to be the same mode of operation. Door to door," she said. "I just finished the job for your neighbor or if I can get three neighbors to come in the deliver of the materials will be cheaper."

Loy-Goto said that especially with door to door offers, consumers should check with RICO to see if a contractor has a license or if there are complaints.

To check, call 587-4-CRC or click here.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.