Utah contractor tells KSL Investigators he ‘ripped off’ customers

Feb 16, 2023, 12:48 PM | Updated: 12:48 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Feofaaki Tevita Ahoafi, who goes by Ofa, was in court Friday facing felony charges of theft by deception. He’s accused of taking money for landscape work but then not completing the work.

Since first reporting on Ahoafi, the KSL Investigators have heard from 22 additional homeowners who say they paid Ahoafi to do various landscaping jobs at their homes. He reportedly took full payment and, in most cases, did some of the work – but then stopped showing up and stopped returning calls.

Because some work was completed, it’s hard to put an exact number on how much Ahoafi’s alleged victims lost. Receipts shared with the KSL Investigators show that he collected nearly $200,000.

The KSL Investigators met Ahoafi inside the Matheson Courthouse before his arraignment and presented him with the list of his alleged victims.

Asked, “I’ve heard from about two dozen people who say the same thing — they say they feel like you’ve ripped them off. Have you ripped them off?” Ahoafi replied, “I kind of, you know, did so.”

Asked, “Were you trying to rip people off?”, Ahoafi replied, “No, I wasn’t trying to rip people off.”

According to state records, Utah’s licensing department has cited Ahoafi seven times since 2014 — six for contracting without a license and one for job abandonment.

The director of Utah’s licensing department says that most contractors who are cited take corrective action to comply with the law. But in Ahoafi’s case, he never became licensed despite being told it is required.

“That tells us a story that they just don’t care,” Mark Stenigal said.

One of Ahoafi’s alleged victims sent the KSL Investigators a video in which Ahoafi can be heard saying that he is a licensed contractor.

In January, the KSL Investigators spoke to Ahoafi by phone while standing in the street in front of his home. Ahoafi has not returned several phone calls from the KSL Investigators so we drove to his home hoping to speak to him. There was no answer at the door but a man driving by saw the camera crew, stopped to ask what was going on, and then called Ahoafi himself and Ahoafi answered.

During that phone conversation, the KSL Investigators asked Ahoafi about a specific alleged victim in West Jordan who claims to have lost $40,000 to the contractor for uncompleted work going back to June 2022.

In that phone call, he said he was actively working to finish that job. On Friday, Ahoafi told the court stating that he is not working.

Outside the courtroom, Ahoafi told the KSL Investigators said he hopes he has the chance to make amends.

“I’m hoping that I can start going and do what I can do to get money and pay people what I owe them,” he said.

Ahoafi is scheduled to be back in court on March 10.

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Utah contractor tells KSL Investigators he ‘ripped off’ customers