Update: More Victims of North Texas Contractor Come Forward - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Update: More Victims of North Texas Contractor Come Forward



    Update: More Victims of North Texas Contractor Come Forward

    More people say they were victims of North Texas contractor Mario Vila. Vila is accused of taking thousands of dollars from customers, and never completing the job. (Published Friday, Nov. 4, 2016)

    A North Texas contractor accused of ripping off dozens of customers is out on bond. This comes after an NBC 5 Responds investigation that led to his arrest earlier this week. Since our first story aired, we have heard from several more people who say they, too, were ripped off by Mario Vila. The customers are in Tarrant, Ellis, Dallas, Parker and now Collin County.

    "I was in shock. I couldn't believe what was on TV," Kendra Seepaul said, after seeing the NBC 5 Responds report about Vila.

    She called her neighbors over immediately.

    "We just couldn't believe what was happening," she said.

    North Texas Contractor Arrested in Tarrant County

    [DFW] North Texas Contractor Arrested in Tarrant County
    North Texas contractor Mario Vila was arrested Tuesday in Tarrant county after an NBC 5 Responds investigation found customers who say Vila took thousands of dollars and never completed the jobs.
    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016)

    Seepaul paid Vila $11,900 to build a patio in her backyard. She says it looks great now, but she says her husband had to finish the job.

    While Vila was working on the project, he signed up two other families in the same neighborhood.

    "He was wrapping up the last couple days of working on theirs, doing the final details, and I said, 'OK, Mario, deal. Let's do it,'" Tru Waters said.

    Tru and Lisa Waters wrote Vila a check for $5,500 to get the ball rolling. But after missed appointments and countless excuses, they had a feeling Vila wasn't coming back.

    "I have been majorly scammed," Tru Water said. "You hear about people, you see it on TV shows, but you would never think it would happen to you."

    "We've never seen him again since the day he took the check," said Shelly Ladd.

    Victims of North Texas Contractor Want Criminal Charges

    [DFW] Victims of North Texas Contractor Want Criminal Charges
    A group of North Texas residents says a contractor took thousands of dollars for projects and disappeared. His victims say he found a legal loophole.
    (Published Friday, Oct. 28, 2016)

    The Ladds say they were ripped off by Vila, for $7,000.

    "You have taken from us ... hard earned money. Money that we struggled to make," Ladd said.

    An NBC 5 Responds investigation revealed Vila took thousands of dollars from customers in Tarrant, Dallas, Ellis and Parker counties. Some of his victims shared their stories of regret and frustration.

    "How can he get away with stealing thousands of dollars, and not be charged criminally?" Sophia Gray told NBC 5 Responds.

    Days after that story aired, Vila was arrested.

    "Two state jail felonies and one is a third-degree felony. The third-degree felony is the most severe of the three," said Capt. Jim Moody, with the Collin County Sheriff's Office.

    Calls for Publisher's Clearing House 'Winners' on the Rise

    [DFW] Calls for Publisher's Clearing House 'Winners' on the Rise
    If you've gotten a call claiming you've won big money from Publisher's Clearing House, you're not alone. In the past 24 hours, the Fort Worth Police Department has received many calls from people saying they've been contacted by the sweepstakes. But Publisher's Clearing House says they do not contact winner's by phone.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016)

    Vila's charges, including "theft of service," carry a potential penalty of two to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

    Vila declined NBC 5 Responds's request for an interview after he was booked into the Collin County Jail.

    In an open letter he originally wrote to his victims, Vila says he took deposits from new customers and used the money to finish other jobs and pay back loans. He wrote, quote:

    "I planned to come up with some type of way to start paying people back as much as I humanly could. I have quit doing business on my own and do not plan on going back."

    "I'm hoping along with jail time come repayment of the money that he's stolen," Ladd said.

    The victims say they know more people in Collin County who were cheated by Vila, and they hope he will now learn his lesson.

    Experts recommend that if you're going to hire a contractor, do your research, trust your instincts, and know to whom you're giving your money.

    Do you have a story idea? We want to hear from you! Fill out the complaint form on the NBC 5 Responds page or call 844-5RESPND, (844) 573-7763. More #NBC5Responds archive here.