Flagler woman bilked out of $3,500 by unlicensed contractor

Sheriff Rick Staly says there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer

PALM COAST, Fla. - An unlicensed contractor is under investigation after he accepted thousands of dollars to pave a Palm Coast woman's driveway and then left her hanging, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Yosvel Basart, 35, who is wanted on suspicion of violating probation, now faces a felony grand theft charge for bilking the 63-year-old victim out of nearly $3,500, the Sheriff's Office said.

When it comes to hiring a contractor, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

  • Do your homework. Review the company’s BBB Business profile at BBB.org
  • Shop around. Get at least three quotes in writing before hiring someone.
  • Trust, but verify. Check to make sure your contractor is properly licensed and bonded.
  • See if the company has liability and workers’ compensation coverage.
  • Ask for references from the contractor’s last three jobs.
  • Get it in writing. Do not permit work to start without a written contract.
  • Read the fine print. Know what you’re getting into when you sign a contract.
  • Do not pay large amounts upfront. Stagger your payments and don’t pay with cash.
  • Get your permits. Unsanctioned work can void insurance coverage and violate building codes.
  • Look into your contractor’s background to see if they have a criminal history.

Source: Better Business Bureau

The victim did not know Basart was unlicensed when she hired him June 16. She agreed to pay half of his fee, or $3,494, upfront and he cashed her check the same day, according to a case report.

Basart said he was busy and could not start work for three weeks. But when six weeks ticked by and work had still not begun. Confronted by the victim, Basart reluctantly agree to refund the deposit.

When work had still not gotten underway and she wasn't reimbursed, the victim went to the authorities to file a fraud complaint. The victim later identified Basart through a photo lineup.

It turns out, Basart has an extensive criminal history in Flagler County. Deputies said he's been arrested nine times since 2009 for charges ranging from assault on a corrections officer to domestic violence.

Sheriff Rick Staly took the case as an opportunity to remind people that they should always be on the lookout for potential frauds.

"You should always confirm the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured to do the work before signing any written agreement and before making any payment," Staly said.

Anyone with information on Basart's whereabouts is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at (386) 313-4911.

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