Jacksonville woman scammed out of thousands of dollars

Donna Zamallo says she paid $12K for renovations that weren't finished

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Grove Park woman said she was scammed by a contractor who took her money and never came back.

Donna Zamalloa hired alleged contractor Jeff Markant to do some improvements on her kitchen. She said she paid Markant $12,000 for the renovations, but her kitchen was left in disarray.

"I started feeling a little weird because more money was needed, and I didn't want to make any qualms about it and I didn't want to start yelling at him until everything was finished," said Zamalloa. "Then I was going to tell him." 

But Zamalloa never got that far. She said he did some work, then eventually just stopped taking her calls before he installed all the appliances. 

"He (talked) about his church; I go to church. I'm thinking he's a Christian, I'm a Christian," said Zamalloa. "I think that's what bothered me. I really trusted him." 

Now Zamalloa is left with a half-finished kitchen and is going to have to figure out how to pay to redo it. 

She filed a police report, but the Better Business Bureau said it's unlikely that will accomplish anything. Tom Stephens with the BBB said these scams are quite common and police view them as civil matters of breach of contract. 

"She should start raising holy cane with the website, the referral site that she got the information from," said Stephens. "They claimed to run backgrounds and one of their contractors bilked her out of $12,000." 

Zamalloa checked on a website that claims to find reputable contractors, but Stephens recommends checking with more than one source and never pay so much money up front. 

"She should've probably come to us, called the company to make sure that the person who claimed worked for them actually worked for them," said Stephens. 

News4JAX attempted to contact Markant by phone, but when he learned who was calling he hung up.

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