CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - When it comes to construction, having the right tools is just the start.
"We pull a permit every time a permit is required on a project," said Mike Luick with the deck-building company, Archadeck of Charlotte. "We have all the proper licenses and insurances."
But not everyone plays by the rules.
FOX 46 spoke with four people who say they're owed thousands of dollars from Terence "Randy" Briel, an unlicensed contractor who's been arrested at least a dozen times and served 10 months in prison for ripping off customers.
The Better Business Bureau has received more than 100 complaints against Briel and say he has changed the name of his business more than two dozen times. The North Carolina Attorney General is investigating him and the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office has a warrant out for his arrest.
Briel has not responded to requests for comment.
His latest business, Mega Decks Unlimited, showcases finished deck projects he advertises as his work. However, using a reverse Google image search, FOX 46 found many of the photos are actually taken from other websites.
One picture was traced to an Archadeck project in Pittsburgh, Pa.
"It's such a frustrating thing to see and unfortunately it's not the first time," said Luick. "It's disheartening that someone else would use our hard work and pass it off as their own."
Luick says he has found his company's photos on other Facebook pages before. He says it is not uncommon for unlicensed contractors to rip off other people's work.
"Oh it absolutely stings," he said.
He urges consumers to do their research and ask for a dozen or more references. He also suggests consumers ask friends, family and co-workers who they have used and trust.
Luick says unlicensed contractors undercut businesses like his, and make his prices seem artificially high, but ends up costing consumers in the end.
He says he gets calls "weekly" to fix shoddy uninsured work.
"It's going to be thousands of dollars to take out what's there and start over," he said, adding that he would need to start from the ground up to insure any new work.
"My heart goes out to these consumers" who have lost money to Briel, Luick said. "I hope they find justice."