Action 9

‘Poof, he’s gone’: Local woman accuses contractor of ghosting her after paying large deposits

APOPKA, Fla. — An Orange County woman wanted to build her dream home on land her family already owned. But after paying the builder a large amount upfront, she claims that builder ghosted her.

Melissa Sapp has lived in a home in West Orange County for more than 20 years. She claims the home was given to the family by her brother, NFL great, Warren Sapp.

When Melissa wanted to downsize, she decided on getting a home made from shipping containers, and wanted it built on Warren Sapp Drive, on the land she and her famous brother grew up on.

“Once I started doing my research and what I wanted, I went ahead and sold my home,” Melissa said.

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She took the money from the sale and entered into an agreement for a container home with 369 Biz LLC. A company managed by Mauricio Chiara. She said she paid Chiara more than $200,000 up front.

Melissa said,” Everything is going so smooth, and then two months later, poof. He’s gone.”

She claims calls and emails went unanswered, and said the home was supposed to have been finished by last August.

When Action 9′s Jeff Deal went to the property, the demolition of the old home had not even started.

Melissa has filed a report with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The case is now in the hands of the state attorney’s office to determine if charges should be filed.

Action 9 couldn’t find a contractor’s license for Chiara.

His business address is a storefront mail drop in Orlando, and he has not responded to Deal’s phone calls.

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Melissa told Deal she felt a range of emotions from depression to anger and hopes the law will soon help her get justice for what she lost.

She explained, “Just give me my money back. So, I can go find someone else to do what I want to have done.”

Make sure you research anyone you’re thinking about hiring. Check for proper licensing, get more than one quote, and once you find the right builder, set up a payment schedule based on progress, instead of paying for everything upfront.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.