Investigation: Convicted fake contractor at it again

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Eyewitness News investigated a call to our tipline that led to the arrest of a fraudulent contractor. We tracked down the man, and a victim he allegedly scammed out of almost $13,000.

Barry Hanner has been ripping people off across Kern County for decades.

He is a professional scam artist with a lengthy list of complaints; we discovered he seems to be at it again.

Susan Goodman hired Hanner as a contractor to work on her home a few months back. He started the work, but never finished after she gave him a down payment of almost $13,000.

"He scammed me out of a total of $12,800," Goodman said.

This past April, Hanner was sentenced to five years in jail for scamming people, like Goodman, using a bogus contractor's license.

Due to prison realignment legislation, AB 109, Hanner was released on virtual house arrest after serving just two months of that sentence behind bars.

It was a call to our tipline that set off the new Eyewitness News investigation. Posing as someone who needed contractor work, we called Hanner to see if he was trying to work without a license.

Hanner immediately agreed to meet but never kept his appointments. So, we contacted the Kern County District Attorney's Office to find out what was going on.

"It was brought to our attention by your news organization that he was back out of custody and trying to contract again without a license," said Cynthia Norris with the district attorney's office.

And, not only did Hanner try to contract with Eyewitness News, but he unknowingly set up an appointment with the sheriff's office.

"After you provided me with information and a flyer, I forwarded that to probation, and then the sheriff's department. And they took the flyer that had his phone number on it, actually called him up and inquired as to whether or not he would be interested in doing a job for them, and he said, 'Yes,'" described Norris.

The sheriff's department arrested Hanner, and he will be serving the remainder of his sentence behind bars.

The Contractors State Licensing Board said Hanner has been unlicensed for decades, and because of his number of complaints and fines, the board will never issue him a license.

"We've given him 10 different citations with well over $56,000 in fines, and he's never paid on cent of those fines," said Rick Lopes with the CSLB.

He said if a contractor asks for a hefty down payment, that should be your first indication of fraud.

"In California, the law is very specific about down payments. It says that they can require you to pay 10 percent or $1,000 of a project, whichever is less," Lopes said.

Goodman said she's learned a hard lesson.

"I trusted Barry," she said. "I don't ever expect to see that money ever again."