BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — In May, Erica Pippen found what she thought was a trustworthy contractor on the app Nextdoor to work on her home. Little did she know, she was about to lose a lot of money.

“I just didn’t expect that, it was shock,” Pippen said. 

Pippen hired Tayler Braud and paid him $12,492, but in the end, the work was incomplete. 

“I was really upset, obviously, and worried and concerned what was going to happen now, and what are my next steps and where is my money and is my house going to be fixed,” Pippen said.

She said she tried to get her money back, but was going nowhere.

“You have a lot of my money and I need it back, and he just blew it off,” Pippen said as she recalled a conversation she had with Braud.

That’s when she found out she was not the only person battling with Braud. She claimed to have found over 20 other people with similar stories. After looking into the law, she decided to go to the Sheriff’s Office.

EBRSO’s Commander of Financial Division Richard DeCuir said people are embarrassed to report.  

“We still have a lot of victims that won’t even report due to the fact that they will take the loss,” DeCuir said.

“There is a lot of victims, many of us… I think the number I know of is 22, not everybody made a report,” Pippen said.

After having to pay someone else to finish the job, she said she is out of nearly $20,000.

“We took that money out of savings,” Pippen said. “That was what I had saved to pay for my daughter’s braces.”

Pippen said during the hiring process she checked his license and insurance only to find out later they were not accurate, now she knows what to do next time, and gives her advice to protect others looking for a contractor. 

“Get the certificate of insurance. The insurance provider, the producer, that’s on there, call them,” said Pippen. “Check the contractor’s board, make sure that license’s number adds up with the actual name.”

As of Wednesday morning, Braud turned himself in.

“I’m glad because he needs to be held accountable. I mean, he owes a lot of money to me and to others,” Pippen said.

We made attempts to reach out to Braud through his attorney, but have not received a response.