2 Investigates: Bay Area contractor on the run, accused of stealing from customers

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - A Bay Area contractor is on the run. He's accused of collecting thousands of dollars up front and then never doing the work. 

There's an arrest warrant for Adan Rivas. His customers say they knew him as Adam. Homeowners from Danville, San Ramon, Alamo, Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek are out thousands of dollars. 

Omega Collins says she was just trying to improve her house after a devastating blow to her home. "My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer, so we needed a place for the kids to come and play while he was resting after his chemo treatments," said Collins. 

Contractor Adam Rivas was working on a neighbor's house. He offered to trim some trees. "So initially he initiated the conversation and we just talked about different projects that maybe his crew could take on," said Collins. 

After Collins gave Adam $3,000 up front for supplies, she says he disappeared."They didn't even finish trimming the trees and then we had to dig deeper into our pockets to get the work done so that the place was actually kid friendly." The Contra Costa District Attorney says Collins is not the only one who got scammed. 

DA Mark Peterson filed a lawsuit on behalf of at least 11 families. The office estimates Rivas collected around $40,000 without doing the work. Now, there's a $139,000 arrest warrant with his name on it. 2 Investigates stopped by an address where he may have been staying, but no one answered the door. 

KTVU also received a tip that Rivas' work truck was on Monument Court in Concord. The truck was there with lots of tree branches in the back. Rick Clausen has an auto repair shop next to where the truck was parked. 

He said it had been there for about a week but that he hadn't seen Rivas. The DA's office says there may be more victims and there's no telling if Rivas is still out there collecting down payments for work he doesn't intend on doing. "I think it's just a quick easy way for him to make money and to take advantage of people," said Collins. 

Collins says she regrets she didn't do more online research on Adam Rivas before hiring him, but it might not have helped. 

She says between his business cards, headers on emails and voicemail greetings, he appeared to be using several different names. Most of them included the words New View or Tree Service. Collins created a website where she tracks updates and victims.

If you have a tip for 2 Investigates call 510-874-0222.