SCAM ALERT: Local Business Owner Takes Thousands in Deposits and Walks Away, Victims Claim
Last updated 11/4/2023 at 6:24pm
FLORIDA – Occasionally, R News receives complaints about local business owners who contract with residents to provide a service or product and then never deliver. Sometimes the circumstances are unintentional because the business experiences an unexpected financial hardship, but when the owner knowingly collects deposits on work they cannot complete, the true motive is most likely more nefarious.
Earlier this month, Spring Hill resident Tasha Johnson reached out to R News with a complaint about a local paver company she hired to finish her pool deck. Johnson says Nelson Terenzi of Terenzi Home Services answered a social media post, and she subsequently hired him on April 7th of this year. Johnson attempted to send Terenzi a $3,600 deposit but he claimed a hold was placed on the funds. In order for Terenzi to order materials, Johnson says she canceled the PayPal transaction and gave him cash. It was at that point Johnson says she began having an uneasy feeling about doing business with Terenzi.
Terenzi was supposed to start work on April 10th, but Johnson says he began making excuses as to why he was delaying the start of her project. Johnson is familiar with the paver industry and Flagstone, the company Terenzi supposedly purchased Johnson's materials from, so when Terenzi said material was on back order, she knew something wasn't adding up. Despite the red flags, Johnson went against her best judgement and provided Terenzi with the balance of $3,600, hoping Terenzi would have what he needed to complete the job. But that wouldn't be the case. Johnson says Terenzi continued with excuse after excuse and never even began working on the project. The only thing he did provide was the coping material, which she believes might have been brought from someone else's project.
Johnson's husband, Timothy Johnson, started looking into Terenzi's background and found several clients in Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties who had similar complaints. At least two recent lawsuits were filed against Terenzi in Pinellas County, one in Pasco, and another in Hernando County on February 8th. But more disturbingly, Johnson discovered that Terenzi is currently on a pretrial diversion program for a felony Grand Theft charge that occurred in Hernando County last December. According to court records, Terenzi hired Topline Tires to complete work on his pickup truck, but instead of paying the $1,100.00 owed to the company, Terenzi used a spare set of keys and retrieved his vehicle after business hours. Topline attempted to negotiate payment for the work but Terenzi refused to cooperate. According to the arrest affidavit, Terenzi's own wife, Deanna Terenzi told Topline "He's done this before."
Johnson says she had to hire another company to do the job Terenzi never started. After canceling the project with Terenzi, he refused to refund a single dime. Johnson says Terenzi played the victim, claiming his wife "cheated on him," that he's "addicted to pills," and that he's "not mentally stable."
Johnson contacted the Hernando County Sheriff's Office to file a complaint, but they told her it was civil matter. Their only recourse would be to file a lawsuit and try to get a judgement against Terenzi Home Services, says Johnson.
Juliana Green hired Terenzi Home Services on January 23rd and gave him a $2,168 deposit towards an interior tile replacement project for her Spring Hill home. Terenzi was supposed to do a complete tear out of the old tile and vinyl flooring, but not only did Terenzi not finish the job, he left the home in worse shape than how he found it.
Green says she and her husband gave Terenzi the key to their home on February 6th and rented and Airbnb for a week, hoping that would be plenty of time to complete the work.
Day after day Green says Terenzi was a "no show," and when he finally did show up, he would work for a few minutes and then disappear.
Terenzi rented a jackhammer to complete the flooring tear out, but Green says he punched holes in the concrete, up to 3" deep in some places. Making things worse, Terenzi never masked off the ductwork, cabinets, and other fixtures during the demolition. As a result, Green says Terenzi caused over $5,000 in damage to the home.
Green says Terenzi provided a series of poor excuses as to why he couldn't complete the work or return their deposit. Some of the excuses include, "I'm going through a divorce," "I'm meeting with my attorney," "My dog is missing," and "I was helping to find a missing child." In the end, Green says she and her husband had to hire another company to complete the job, which ended up costing them a total of $7,200.
In April of this year, Patrick Murray hired Terenzi to complete a concrete project for his home in Hudson, and just like with the other victims, Murray lost his deposit and received a deluge of improbable excuses for why the project couldn't be completed. Murray lost approximately $5,800 dollars to Terenzi.
Lois Rodriguez says she cannot comment about the incident because she is in the middle of a lawsuit against Terenzi, but according to the complaint filed in Hernando County Circuit Court, Rodriguez paid Terenzi $12,500 to complete a drywall installation project in her Brooksville home. Once Terenzi received the funds, he stopped communicating with Rodriguez and never returned any of her deposit.
Law enforcement agencies in three counties have received numerous complaints about Terenzi, some of the victims being elderly, but because the alleged crimes are not committed in a single jurisdiction, legal experts say they cannot establish enough probable cause to arrest him for Organized Fraud. At this time, the only recourse a victim has is to file a lawsuit in their respective jurisdiction.
Through our investigation, R News learned that Terenzi changed his name in 2019 from Nelson Maldonado to Nelson Javier Terenzi. The reason for the name change is unknown, but Terenzi's victims believe it's because he's hiding a questionable past under his former name. We have been unable to find record of criminal activity under Terenzi's former name in Florida.
According to the terms of his Pretrial Intervention, Terenzi could terminate the program after only three months, as long as he pays restitution to Topline Tires. Technically, he was able to terminate the program as of last month, but there is no record of his completion at this time. Once he does complete the program, Terenzi will not be a convicted felon and the charge cannot be used against him. Terenzi's probation officer told one victim that there is nothing she can do unless Terenzi is arrested for another crime.
Johnson published this Facebook page; Hernando Pasco Pinellas Contractor Scam Support, to try and raise awareness about Terenzi Home Services. Terenzi claims to be a licensed and insured contractor but R News could not locate a state license under his name.
R News tried to contact Terenzi by phone, at his last known addresses at 12423 Tree Stand Trail in Brooksville, and at 10161 Briar Circle in Hudson, but he has not responded to our attempts to speak with him.
"I feel we really need to change these laws. He knows the go around and I know there have to be so many more doing the same thing. There has to be so many victims who haven't reported anything. We need to vote more people who are going to fight for us," says Johnson.
R News will continue to follow and report on any new developments regarding this case.