What are my options if I found an electrician on Craigslist to install a tankless water heater and gave him the money for supplies but after he left I couldn’t reach him?

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What are my options if I found an electrician on Craigslist to install a tankless water heater and gave him the money for supplies but after he left I couldn’t reach him?

He’s not part of a company just an individual. He quoted me $300 for supplies and $250 for labor. I gave him $300 up front for the supplies and agreed to pay him the remaining $250 after the job was complete. He left with the money and now will not answer my calls. There wasn’t any paper work involved and I paid him in cash.

Asked on September 9, 2015 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First, contact the police this may be a form of theft, since he may have lied to you about his intentions. He may have never intended to do the work and simply told you he would to get your money. It also might not be  crime, based on his provable intent crimes are committed with criminal intent, or the knowledge and intention to take something belonging to another, but based on what you write, his "disappearance" and failure to respond is suggestive enough that this may have been a scam that you could contact the police with a clear conscience.
The police may not be able to, or choose to, help you. Often, if the dispute is arguably a "civil" one, such as breach of contract, then even if it could also be criminal, the police choose to not get involved. Your other recourse is to sue him for breach of contract not doing what you paid him to do and he agreed to do a contract can be oral or verbal, so the lack of something in writing is not automatically fatal to your claim and/or for fraud for intentionally lying about what he could or would do, in order to get you to give him money. For the amount of money at stake, suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney "pro se" to save on legal fees is a good option.


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