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Consumers: Don't Be Duped by Lookalikes

It’s a tale of two businesses: One is reputable with years of experience, the other is owned by a guy wanted by police.

North Texans say the wanted man — Troy Hagar Jr. — cheated them out of thousands.

When Libby Raph needed new siding for her home, she found a site with a list of contractors. She submitted her contact information and, within minutes, she got a call from Lone Star Windows in Plano.

Raph said Hagar came to her home and told her he'd replace her siding for $2,900. He asked for half the money up front, so Raph wrote him a check for $1,450.

“That was half my savings,” she said.

Raph said Hager told her his grandfather started the business in Houston and that he was running the business’s satellite location in Plano. She didn't know the real owner of Houston's Lone Star Windows, Lee Friedrichs, has never met Hagar.

"I do a good job, and I've got a good reputation," Friedrichs said.

Friedrichs said Hagar has sullied that good reputation, though. Friedrichs learned about Hagar when he started getting calls from North Texans that were unhappy about not having gotten the windows after having paid Hagar.

"He's a thief. That's all he is," said Friedrichs.

A dozen customers who lost money to Hagar have joined forces by forming a Facebook group and contacting police. Hagar has warrants for theft in Tarrant County, theft and forgery of a financial instrument in Grayson County and a bad check in Collin County.

NBC 5’s Consumer Team found Hagar as he arrived at his new job and asked him why he didn’t deliver and install the windows that siding paid for by customers.

“The company went under at that point and it was none of my control,” he said.

He denied having told customers that he was the affiliated with Lone Star Windows in Houston. Customers like Libby say that's exactly what Hagar said, leading them to believe he represented the reputable Houston company.

NBC 5 advised Raph to inform her bank and ask it to open a fraud investigation.

"That was awesome advice," she said.

The bank determined fraud occurred because Raph’s check went to Hagar's business instead of the real Lone Star Windows in Houston. Raph got her money back, but it. a tough lesson learned.

"I'm not paying anyone until the work is completed," said Raph.

Before you hire a contractor ask for and check references. If contacted by a business, don't trust a name or a number. Instead, look up the business's number and call back. Don't pay with a check. Pay with a credit card. It's easier to dispute the charges. While Libby wrote a check and was able to get her money back, most banks would have been less forgiving.

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