ORLANDO, Fla. - An Orange County woman just discovered the mold testing company that charged her a couple thousand dollars is a fraud.
Several local contractors had used the "home test kits" that claimed to uncover dangerous mold, but Action 9's Todd Ulrich learned those tests can be risky if used the wrong way.
Ulrich also learned the man who sold the kits is now behind bars.
After a washing machine flooded Betty Arnett's house in Orange County, a contractor insisted on mold testing first and recommended Davis Test Kits, which was based in Michigan. The company claimed that it used government-certified laboratories for accurate and detailed results.
The company charged Arnett nearly $2,000 and its final report found her home had very dangerous air inside.
“And they told me it was a life-threatening mold and I had to act right way. It scared me to death," she said.
Just this month, Arnett discovered the testing was an elaborate scheme. Federal investigators said Davis Test Kits owner Alexander Loren Davis rarely did actual testing and his company had used fraudulent results that misled hundreds of customers like Arnett all over the country.
“This guy was taking me for a ride," said Arnett.
Davis pleaded guilty to mail fraud for selling phony test kits through the U.S. mail and faces up to five years in prison.
Mold experts told Action 9 even the real test kits with actual results can be risky, because some contractors misuse the findings to run up your bill.
Certified indoor air consultant John Lapotaire said experts from the EPA to Consumer Reports believe mold testing is oversold and can be a big red flag.
“If you hire someone and the first thing they want to do is sample, that means they're looking for a problem," said Lapotaire.
Arnett became suspicious before the local contractor hit her with a huge repair bill. She hired a new local contractor who didn’t find any physical evidence of mold in the house.
“I'm thrilled to death they got him and he won't hurt anybody else like he did us," she said.
The local contractor who recommended the test kits never returned Action 9's calls. Many indoor air experts said finding the source of the mold is far more important that an actual mold test.