CEDAR CREST, N.M. (KRQE) – A couple looking for a simpler life and a smaller home says a contractor scammed them out of thousands of dollars. They thought they did their homework on him but learned after it was too late that he’d been in trouble before.
“Just a small space, we don’t need a big huge mansion, we just want a simple life,” said Michelle Dipour.
Wanting to get away from the city, Michelle Dipour and her husband bought an old, school portable. “Just a small living room, and outside, we’re gonna have a big covered porch,” said Dipour.
They planned to turn the 900-square-foot building into their home in Cedar Crest. “We’ve just been working slowly over the years, as we could, as we got funds,” said Dipour.
They were facing a time crunch after they learned they could only stay on the land in their RV until October. She thought it was perfect timing when a man named Rick Woodmansee came into her work and offered to do the job for her. He said he worked for JW Builders LLC.
“Basically, he was, according to his contract, supposed to do everything, minus the plumbing, electrical, HVAC,” Dipour said.
At the time her husband was out of the country tending to family matters. Per their contract, she paid him $12,000 to start work but she says he hardly did anything.
“He did about three walls, which were framed wrong.”
Dipour began documenting everything. “He just did very minimal, just to string me along and get more money,” she said.
In all she paid him $23,000 and by Thanksgiving, she says he suddenly quit. So she filed a police report.
“If he hadn’t stolen this money from me, we would have been done already,” Dipour said.
Despite checking him out on the Better Business Bureau and state’s web site on contractors, she later learned through court web sites that at least four other people have come after Woodmansee for contractor debts, including a woman in Fence Lake, New Mexico near the Arizona border.
New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Department is now investigating Woodmansee. “I’m meeting more and more people, that he’s just going around and scamming people,” said Dipour.
The couple says they’re doing the work themselves now. KRQE News 13 reached out to Woodmansee and JW Builders but did not hear back. Court records show Woodmansee was found guilty of contracting without a license and fraud in the early 90s.
The family has also set up a Go Fund Me in fear they’ll likely never see their money again.