Help the Arzet family stay safe in the cold! A fraudulent contractor used faith to scam this young family.
I am setting up this page on behalf of our dear friends the Arzet family (Angel, Amanda and Aiden) who are struggling after being victims of fraud. You may have recently seen their story air on NBC 5
, which described how a Christian contractor stole thousands of dollars from the family, leaving them without a roof and exposing their young baby and hospice-bound parent to the elements. I hope that sharing their story will move you to help them however you can - through prayer, time (they're looking for insulation help!), and especially monetary gifts so they can get their home winter-ready before the cold Chicago weather really settles in.The Background:
Last spring, the Arzets decided to return to Angel's childhood home and care for his ill 82 year old mother who is in home hospice care. In June, Angel, Amanda and Aiden (9 months at the time) moved and began the process of slowly fixing up and renovating the old home, which had not been properly maintained. One of the projects was to dormer out the second floor to make room for their family to live.
They met with multiple contractors, and selected a man named Joseph Cheng due to his ability to explain the job in realistic terms and the way he put the family at ease. Home renovations, no matter the size, can be stressful. Discovering that Joseph was active in his local church and a man of faith gave Angel and Amanda peace of mind. Joseph shared a General Contractors license as well as a Certificate of liability insurance, which checked out as active and current in the city of Chicago. After due diligence, the Arzets drafted up a contract and began to move forward. They were asked to pay a percentage installment upfront and Joseph said he would start immediately, pending solid weather as outlined in the contract. Starting off the project:
In the beginning, Joseph would come alone for an hour or two a day and then leave, stating he was "strategizing" or "studying plans" to be ready to go when the weather held. When Angel and Amanda inquired about his crew/progress, he said he was holding them off until 4 forecasted days of no rain to start the project. Angel and Amanda hosted multiple conversations, each time Joseph evaded or gave an excuse. Often he brought up the family not trusting God and to relax and stop worrying. He challenged Angel and Amanda to have faith, believe, and prayed with them for strength. Simultaneously, he reviewed estimates for ordering the construction materials. Joseph continued to ask the Arzets to buy more items, stating they didn’t have the right materials or enough of particular material to start the work. This was thousands of dollars of materials and added to start delays. When the Arzets would get frustrated and solicit advice, friends would remind them that delays and issues are part of the renovation process so they pressed on. Where things went south:
Finally, the week came to start the work. On the first day, Joseph showed up and then left within 2 hours, no crew. Every following day, Joseph showed up alone, performing demolition solo and somewhat recklessly. Each time the Arzets confronted him, Joseph swore everything was fine and that they were paranoid. Joseph's work impacted the integrity of the home, including cracking the first floor ceiling where the family’s 82 year old walker/wheelchair bound mother sleeps. By Friday, he had removed enough of the Arzet’s roof structure for the family to be completely exposed and at his mercy. Angel did a final confrontation. Panicked, Amanda started combing through documents and websites, where she discovered her worst nightmare- this man that they had trusted with their legacy home and family's security - had stolen a General Contractors license and the Certificate of liability insurance of another company, passed it on as his own without authorization - committing fraud. Not only were they without a roof with heavy rain in the forecast, they were in the hands of a scammer.
(see more photos below) The Damage:
By the end of the week, Joseph left the Arzets with what you see pictured. No actual roof-- fully exposing their sick mother and young baby to the elements, rain in the forecast, and a risk that the remaining structure could collapse on them and their neighbors’ homes. To say the Arzets are at a loss is an understatement. They still can’t fully understand how a man who prayed with them preyed on them. It has cost the Arzet’s tens of thousands of dollars of savings and emergency assistance to get licensed professionals into their home to secure the property. Add on top of that construction materials, increased insurance, legal fees for an attorney, water damage to the home from not having a roof… it has been financially crushing. The Ask:
While they have since been able to get a roof up to protect their home from continued damage, Angel and Amanda need financial help to insulate the home before winter for the safety of their family
. Money donated here will first go to buy insulation, drywall and plaster/tape to weather-ready the second floor space that Joseph damaged. As additional funds are raised, we will let you know how it is helping the Arzets recover financially from this fraudulent contractor.
If you cannot support financially or if you want to do more, they are also seeking help to lay insulation (if you're local) and they would greatly appreciate your prayers as they seek to recover some of the money Joseph took upfront when he presented himself as a licensed GC.
I hope you will help me support them in this time of need!
More photos of the open, damaged second floor: