CHICAGO (CBS) — Jenny Duong was weeks away from opening her first nail salon, permits in hand to install water lines for the pedicure tubs, when she hit a sudden setback.
The Morning Insiders follow the path of a plumber who doesn’t want to be found by several angry customers.
To say it’s been a confusing 11 months for Duong would be an understatement.
She considers herself a buttoned-up businesswoman, yet her baby, her first nail salon, sits empty.
She’s been so stressed over her dealings with her plumber, her hair is falling out.
“I have to go and get injections for my hair,” she said.
Rubi Nails was weeks away from opening. She’d purchased $10,000 worth of chairs, nail tables, and other equipment, and last-minute work had been locked down, or so she thought.
“I literally pay for the permit, and get the permit, and – bam – can’t do the job,” she said.
Duong hired Pronto Plumbing in March 2019.
Curiously, owner Sam Farina asked her to make out her $5,000 cashiers check to his other business, Hydroboss.
That prompted her to ask for a copy of his driver’s license.
Fast forward to September, when after finally getting the work permit from Cook County, she found out Farina’s plumbing license had been suspended four months earlier.
“I couldn’t allow him to do the job, because it’s going to be a risk on me to be property damage on the building,” she said. “And I don’t want to get sued.”
Instead, she’s suing Farina.
CBS 2 discovered it’s just one of Pronto Plumbing’s legal troubles.
The City of Berwyn is seeking more than $80,000 for “breach of contract,” “fraudulent inducement,” “negligence” and more.
The problem is, no one can find Farina to serve him the paperwork.
His registered business locations are empty, with no sign of Hydroboss at its Oakbrook Terrace address. In Schaumburg, the Pronto Plumbing address is apparently a UPS Store.
As for the Darien address listed on his driver’s license, CBS 2 was told he doesn’t live there, and the woman who does said she’s lived there 20 years.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Police have launched an investigation into possible fraudulent use of an address.
The twists continue. Pronto Plumbing’s “Salvatore Farina” is currently licensed to “Pheonix Plumbing,” but the person who answered the phone there had “no recollection” of that name.
Oddly, Farina called back 20 minutes after CBS 2’s Lauren Victory called Pheonix Plumbing, even though she hadn’t reached out to Farina yet.
Over text messages, he promised to pay Duong multiple times, and agreed to an interview, but then canceled.
Farina told CBS 2 that Duong’s money paid for licensing, permits, and materials; but was unable to provide receipts.
He still hasn’t returned her $5,000 deposit.
Duong said she’s out much more than that, and had to give up her dream of opening a nail salon.