Daryl Stock has been a licensed contractor for 39 years. He says his company, Hybrid Landscape Maintenance and Design, stays in business because it takes good care of its clients through honest, hard work.
He now fears his company's reputation is on the line.
Stock got a call from a woman who identified herself as a customer of an Oceanside company called Hybrid Turf. She wanted to know whether Stock's company, which shares the word "hybrid" in its name, was affiliated with Hybrid Turf. Stock assured her it wasn't.
That was when he got another unwelcome surprise: The woman told him her contract with Hybrid Turf's owner, Marc Morningstar, listed his contractors license number on it.
“She was hoping that I was associated with him and maybe I would come back and finish the job that he started out in the backyard," Stock recalled.
The woman said Morningstar had not returned her phone calls and she was trying to track him down.
Stock was immediately concerned.
"I’m worried that people are gonna be thinking my company is the one that’s not doing the work and I’ve been in business 39 years, and that’s not the way we do our business," he told Team 10.
It was just last month when a Team 10 investigation exposed Morningstar's business practices. Several former customers complained he took their money, but never finished installing the fake grass they said they'd paid for. We also learned Morningstar had done some of the work after his contractor's license had been suspended. According to a spokesman for the California State Contractors License Board, when a license is suspended, no contracts can be signed, no money can be paid, and no work can be done.
Team 10 contacted a second contractor who said his license had also been abused by Morningstar. James Morningstar (no relation) is a general contractor in Oceano, along the Central California Coast.
He said 2 dissatisfied Hybrid Turf customers contacted him about incomplete work. One of those customers actually filed a claim against James Morningstar's license. Now he's forced to fight that claim to keep his license.
Both contractors said the Hybrid Turf contracts with their license numbers listed at the top were signed in December 2016, months after Marc Morningstar's contractors license was suspended.
James Morningstar and Daryl Stock said they both felt like they are the victims of a crime.
"I think police should get involved in this," said Stock. "It’s fraud.”
Team 10 reached out to Marc Morningstar, who told us last month he did nothing wrong. In a text message, he indicated he was not available for another interview.
"I won't be around. Sorry. Biz is closed," he wrote. He later texted, "I'm not writing any business under other people."
Stock has already been contacted by an investigator from the Contractor's State License Board. James Morningstar hopes to also speak to an investigator soon.
A spokesman for the Contractors State License Board said he could not confirm whether an investigation was underway, but Rick Lopes did say in an email: "CSLB aggressively investigates all allegations of this nature."
The CSLB has already begun legal action to revoke Marc Morningstar's license after learning it was already revoked in Arizona.
Checklist for hiring a contractor:
- Read online reviews.
- Check the status of their license number at https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/onlineservices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx.
- Make sure the company name, address, and license numbers match the ones provided by the contractor.
- Check to see if the license is valid.
- Check license status and Complaint Disclosure for any legal action.
The Federal Trade Commission offers tips you should read before hiring a contractor: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0242-hiring-contractor#Before