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Contractor facing felony charge claimed twin brother was to blame for mistakes

Sharise Lloyd and Rita Peace met because they hired the same contractor, Arim Isabel. They just didn’t know it at the time.
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A local contractor is facing a felony charge after receiving more than $13,000 in payments from a customer and never completing the job. The WBTV Investigates team found several other customers who also had issues with the contractor and all of them claim they found him from online websites connecting consumers with contractors, raising questions about how the websites operate.

Sharise Lloyd and Rita Peace met because they hired the same contractor, Arim Isabel. They just didn’t know it at the time.

“Because the person I met, his name is ‘Erick’,” Lloyd told WBTV.

“Which you now believe is Arim?” a reporter for WBTV asked.

“Which I know is Arim.”

Lloyd and Peace both contracted for deck work and other small projects at their Concord homes. Peace was working with Arim Isabel. Lloyd thought she was working with his twin brother Erick.

It turns out, there’s only Arim.

“When we realized that as well, it was just lies, after lies,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd gave WBTV dozens of text messages showing delayed work and excuses she now questions, like a supposed suicide attempt by twin brother ‘Erick’. The text messages from ‘Erick’ even came from the same number WBTV has for Arim Isabel.

Lloyd paid a $5,000 deposit but said everything he delivered was wrong.

“The inspector came out and said ‘nope’, this is not even up to code as far as, not even just the railing piece of it, but the type of material that he was using,” Lloyd said.

When she went to warn Peace, it was too late. Peace had already paid a deposit of $10,365.

Peace decided to cancel the contract before work even got started and then went on a mission to find other people who hired Isabel.

WBTV started searching too.

“I kind of believed that he was a fair guy and that he was going to do the job correctly,” Diallo McDuffie said.

McDuffie is a local contractor and hired Isabel as a subcontractor to complete a fencing job. But McDuffie filed a small claims court action against Isabel after paying him a deposit of $1,900 and says Isabel never did any of the work.

Quyen Vo hired Isabel for a deck and concrete project at her home in Randolph County. She ended up paying him more than $13,000 before she filed a police report.

“The moment the first transaction goes through is when he stopped showing up,” Vo said.

Isabel is now facing a felony charge for obtaining property under false pretenses in Randolph County. WBTV learned Isabel provided a false number to Vo when claiming he was putting her in touch with a vendor that required payment.

“You know when you’re a victim, you’re blind. You’re blindsided and that’s just the reality and I don’t want this to happen to someone else and I hate that it’s still happening after my case,” Vo said.

WBTV spoke with Arim Isabel but he did not agree to an on-camera interview. He said he had text messages, videos, and pictures to back up his side to these stories, but he never sent them.

Text messages provided to WBTV by victims show numerous contradictions with what Isabel has claimed.

In a text to Lloyd he said he sold his business, but in a recent bankruptcy filing he claimed he hadn’t sold any company or made any business income for years.

Isabel also claimed to WBTV his supposed twin brother was a licensed contractor in North Carolina, but WBTV couldn’t find any record backing that up, or that Erick even exists.

All of Isabel’s customers WBTV spoke to thought they did their due diligence because they found out about Isabel from a website that connects contractors to customers. HomeAdvisor, Angi, HomeGuide, and Houzz all had pages for Isabel’s companies. Houzz still has an active page for one of Isabel’s company names.

WBTV has previously investigated websites that help connect consumers with contractors that turn out to be questionable.

Now, these customers have warnings about the websites.

Vo told WBTV that she had searched on Homeguide for a contractor and was later contacted by Isabel. She presumes that Homeguide gave Isabel her contact information.

“It took them a while to take (his) website down,” she said regarding Homeguide.

Sharise Lloyd found Isabel after using HomeAdvisor to search for a contractor.

“I felt I did my due diligence because I used HomeAdvisor. I thought they had done their due diligence,” Lloyd said.

“I would never, ever use a site like that again.”

WBTV reached out to Angi/HomeAdvisor (which merged in 2017), Homeguide and Houzz to ask about their vetting process and their steps to taking down a contractor’s page after numerous customer complaints.

Houzz and HomeGuide never provided a response.

In an email, a spokesperson for Angi/HomeAdvisor wrote “This individual was part of the network of pros on HomeAdvisor for a few months in late 2019. This pro, like all pros on HomeAdvisor, completed our screening process. To ensure quality on our network, we also monitor ratings, reviews, and customer outreach. After receiving complaints about this pro, we promptly terminated him from the network.”

A review of the HomeAdvisor/Angi screening process shows that the company completes a criminal background check on potential contractors as well as a search for contracting licenses and state business licenses.

However, that background check does not include lawsuits filed against the contractor and WBTV has repeatedly found that consumers who seek criminal charges against contractors in North Carolina are rarely successful.

Peace is asking for law enforcement officers to take more responsibility in investigating these types of cases.

“I believe if the police were to just take a report and let multiple reports collect so that at some point some officer would be like, ‘OK, whoa…maybe we should look at this guy,” Peace said.

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