MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Minneapolis couple says they were swindled out of thousands of dollars on a bathroom remodel project. Now, the contractor at the center of the scandal is being accused of ripping off customers for years--even getting arrested for it.
When the contractor was approached by Fox 9 on Tuesday, he said he’s working on paying back customers.
But, the victims want to warn others - especially now that it's finally warm out and people are starting work on their homes.
Months ago, Beth Knutson and her husband hired Jeff Danberg to do some work on their home. Knutson said she was sitting outside her home with her walker, wearing a cast when she was approached by Jeff Danberg. She said Danberg was on his way to another job in the neighborhood.
"He said, ‘Do you think there’s anything I can do to make your life better?’” said Beth Knutson.
Knutson had received some bids on repairing her dining room ceiling and wanted to re-model her bathroom to make it wheelchair accessible. She said Danberg provided a reasonable quote, handed her his business card and gave the couple three references.
"We called them all, and they had no problem with him," Charles Knutson said. "At the time, [we] couldn’t find any red flags in what we looked at—at the time."
The couple said Danberg was not able to fix the ceiling so he brought in a sub-contractor, then he disappeared for months and never started the bathroom project. But, he still took nearly $4,000 from them.
Fox 9 also asked Danberg about the allegations filed against him by the Department of Labor and Industry.
"I guess it's going back over 20 years where you've been asked to cease and desist and pay fines and, yeah, I think that was taken care of," Danberg said.
He acknowledged he's had some trouble over the years, including an arrest.
"I'm not in that line of work at all; I am in treatment right now for gambling addiction," he said.
The Director of Licensing and Enforcement for the state's Labor and Industry division said there's only so much they can do to limit Danberg from operating and that people need to do their homework.
“We can’t put him in prison, and we can’t physically go out and find him and put him under house arrest or something," he said.
The Knutsons realize they probably won't get their money back, but they want people to be aware.
“A fine doesn’t go anywhere with this man,” Beth Knutson said. "It’s on the level of a Ponzi scheme that cannot be explained."
Danberg said he has stopped all contract work and is trying to figure out a way to pay everyone back.
In the meantime, the Knutsons have filed a police report.