Who’s your contractor? These families found out the hard way.

Snohomish County, WA — Ron Frashure says he paid $21,000 to a worker who ran out on his deck job.

“He never finished the front deck. Because he was supposed to put a roof on it,” says Frashure.

See, the Arlington resident hired a man named Ryan Scott, who handed out a card with his name and number from a company named “Decks Plus.”

On it: “licensed, bonded, and insured.”

Frashure says it was only later that he found out none of those were true.

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries confirmed Ryan Scott was working illegally as an unregistered contractor.

But there is another - legal - Deck’s Plus out there.

“Well, that’s not my card. By any means whatsoever,” says Deck’s Plus owner Brent Thornton.

Thornton, based in Bellingham, has used the name Deck’s Plus for more than a decade. The name is splashed across his truck. In what appears to be the same font as Ryan Scott’s business card.

And he believes Ryan Scott deceived consumers at his expense.

“Somebody’s using your reputation to build their future when I’ve put the time and effort into this for 25 years,” says Thornton.

Jesse Jameson is a construction contractor compliance specialist with Labor and Industries. He says he can understand Thornton’s frustration. But it’s not something the state can act on.

“It does not rise to the level of falsifying a registration because in this particular case, Mr. Scott did not put a contractor registration number on his business card,” says Jameson.

Different name, same story

“We’re already out $6,100 so it’s a gold driveway,” says Jennifer Knudson, another Ryan Scott customer.

Meet Jennifer and Gary Knudson. They hired Ryan Scott a couple of months after the Ron Frashure debacle. Jennifer says the job was start/stop/see ya later.

“And they never came back. And they left our driveway pebbled - not even pebbles. Stones. Large-sized stones in my driveway,” says Knudson.

The Marysville couple says Scott gave them a card that read “Scott Construction and Customization.”

New business name, same problem.

“The violation was for unregistered contracting,” says L&I’s Jameson.

But when it comes to a case of not knowing your contractor, there’s the frustrating and infuriating case of Constantino Duarte Gonzalez.

An impostor

“Someone is out there using my business information. And stealing homeowners’ money,” says Duarte Gonzalez.

Constantino is a painter in Everett, but a scammer is using his contractor registration information to steal from consumers statewide.

“It might be the end of my business. That’s my fear. That’s what I’m feeling now that I have to close my business to stop this stuff,” says Duarte Gonzalez.

Labor and Industries documents show 11 homeowners from Seattle to Kennewick have given the impostor tens of thousands of dollars in deposits.

Bianca Brookman is one of them.

“And he sent me over the information for this company. And it seemed legit,” says Brookman.

She says she found the scammer on Craigslist and paid him $6,000 to do work in the attic in her Seattle home. She says he did about an hour’s-worth of work.

“I think he just showed up just to show up,” says Brookman.

So she got on the Labor and Industries website to find the worker she paid.

“So I call that number and - Constantin was his name, he was really nice. And he was very confused and said I don’t understand,” says Brookman.

“I’m just expecting to get more phone calls from more people. Asking the same question and saying the same thing, that they’re going to go after my business, that they’re going to try to get the money back from my insurance and bond,” says Duarte Gonzalez.

Prosecutors are considering charges in this case. But no arrests have been made.

How to protect yourself

One way to make sure you have the right person is to do what Brookman did: go to the Labor and Industries website to look up the contractor.

Before you sign a contract, you can verify a contractor’s licensing and insurance information, and see whether they have any infractions.

Also - call the phone number listed on the registration. If the contractor has no clue about you or your job, you’ve got a problem.

“Do that extra research. Make sure the company they hire is who they say they are,” says Jameson.

He says lots of businesses use the same name. It’s the contractor registration number that will set them apart. So make sure to check that registration and check that it matches their company name too.

Look up a contractor at ProtectMyHome.Net.

We stopped by Ryan Scott’s home to get his side of the story.

We even called him using the Decks Plus card he gave Ron Frashure.

And guess what? He called us back.

But he wouldn’t answer why he was working unregistered and using the name Decks Plus.

And he said I had NO authority to ask questions about the Knudson job.

After all of this, Ryan Scott was fined twice and ended up getting legally registered. How, you ask?

Scott filed for registration for his new business under an LLC and not his own name.The state didn’t catch it.

“We should have done a deeper dive and checked to make sure that he didn’t have any previous infractions,” says Jameson.

Jameson says Scott is under a payment plan for his $4,000 in fines.

But Ron Frashure in Arlington says he hasn’t paid enough.

“More punishment. More fines. They have to realize that because they’re out there for one reason. They’re out there for their bottom dollar to make money. So how are you going to hurt them? You take their money,” says Frashure.

Email Jesse right now at consumer@kiro7.com