MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Joyce Dobratz says in December of 2015, she realized water was somehow leaking from the roof of her Mechanicsville home to the inside of her dining room wall.
It was close to the holidays. She was in the midst of a medical issue and she just wanted the work done. She went to the internet, where she found Henry Forrest and Elite Contracting.
"And I probably rushed a little bit too fast to go ahead and hire him, because I didn't do the usual two other contracts or get a better price, I just wanted it done," Dobratz said. "He called me right back. He was very good at being here when he said he was going to be here, everything seemed fine. He showed me the paper work - he was licensed, insured, supposedly."
She made a series of payments as the contracts stipulated. In total, she paid $2900. A month or two later, the wall looked almost as it did before the work began. She says Forrest tried to spray foam on the roof to create a barrier and redirect the water, but that ultimately didn't work.
"He said he was baffled," Dobratz said. "He was in over his head. I told him that I was gonna have to hire another contractor and that I expected him to give me my money back, and he just walked off."
So she took him to court, where she easily won a judgment in her favor.
"Because he was standing there with me and told the judge that he owed me the money because he didn't fix it," Dobratz said.
After the judge ruled in her favor, he told the two to step into the hall to work out the details. But she says Forrest left before that could happen. That was last July. Dobratz still hasn't seen a cent.
That's why she called 12 On Your Side and Eric Philips got involved.
He found no license on file for this business for the state of Virginia and no registration with the BBB.
Philips tried going to the address listed for the business, which is an apartment in Chester, but no one answered the door.
He did get Forrest on the phone. Forrest said Dobratz is a deadbeat who just wanted her money back and that he has no time table to get it to her, that the judge didn't stipulate one.
"The internet is full of crooks who will take advantage of you," said consumer attorney John Gayle.
Consumer attorney John Gayle said Dobratz can petition the court to have Henry Forrest served with what's called a Debtor Interrogatory summons.
"Where you are trying to discover the assets of the defendant by asking them questions, which they have to answer under oath about - where their bank is, where their home is - and you can seize his assets," Gayle said.
The attorney says it's a long, drawn out hassle that doesn't guarantee a pay day.
"And most people just let it go, and I feel strongly about not letting it go," Dobratz said. "I said, if I can save one family from him, I'll be happy."
Dobratz paid another contractor $6,000 to fix the problem correctly. Her judgment against Henry Forrest lasts for 10 years, and she plans to renew it if he hasn't paid her by then.
Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved