SHIRLEY, Long Island (WABC) -- Police on Long Island have arrested a contractor they say defrauded customers out of more than $20,000 over the past six months.
Steven Vitagliano, owner of the Mastic-based Line Up Fence Co, allegedly made verbal and written agreements to install fencing on several residential properties over that time period.
Authorities say Vitagliano would accept payment in the form of cash or checks but failed to do the contracted work before he stopped communicating with the customers.
Following an investigation, 10 victims have been identified as having paid Vitagliano a combined $20,000 without receiving new fences.
Kathleen Reda and Michael Larson, of Shirley, hired Vitagliano in May to put in a fence around their new home.
Reda said she hired Vitagliano because she's known him since childhood.
The couple gave him $2,000 in cash, but they said when he kept giving them excuses for why he couldn't start their job, they asked for their money back.
"That's when he said he didn't have the money to give us back," Larson said.
Reda and Larson went on local community Facebook pages to warn other people about Vitagliano, and they said more people came forward saying they were victims as well.
"Why do you do this in the town you live in, that you grew up in?" Reda said.
Eyewitness News spoke with a homeowner in Mastic, who did not want to be identified, who said five months ago, Vitagliano stole $3,000 from him.
He said when he asked Vitagliano for his money back because Vitagliano hadn't done any work, Vitagliano told him, "I don't have money right now."
Vitagliano told the man to go to the police if he wanted his money.
Eyewitness News reached out to Vitagliano, but he said he did not want to comment.
He is charged with first-degree scheming to defraud and was released on an appearance ticket.
The investigation is ongoing, and police are searching for any potential additional victims.
Anyone who has additional information or who believes they may have been a victim is asked to call Seventh Squad detectives at 631-852-8752.
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