I-Team: Web of Lies
BROOKFIELD - His clients call him a slippery scam artist who's up to his old tricks. They've called him, emailed him, even sued him to get what they paid for.
When it didn't work, they called the I-Team
We first introduced you to Ciro Gamino nearly two years ago. Back then, he was supposedly building Web sites for small businesses. They shelled out a lot of money, but many never got their Web site. Gamino wasn't happy to see our cameras then, and he really wasn't happy to see them now.
Ciro Gamino is an entrepreneur of sorts. He owns esolutionsonline.com in Brookfield. We first met Gamino in 2007, when the I-Team went undercover to hear his sales pitch.
Our cameras caught Gamino saying, "I'm going to tell you how it is. I'm going to tell you how to make money with your Web site."
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We went in after some of his clients, like contractor Robert Seger, called the I-Team claiming Gamino ripped them off.
"I've never been in the hole this much from anybody," Seger told us in 2007.
Seger, and others, paid Gamino thousands of dollars for Web sites they say never worked or never got built at all.
We confronted Gamino back then.
Gamino: "If you don't have your Web site up, it's easy to just point the blame, well, it's his company."
Reporter: "But they paid you to do it."
Gamino: "Yes, but it's not about paying me to do it, it's about we work together on every project."
More than two years later, it looks like Gamino is still blaming his clients.
All Eric Gawlitta wanted was a Web site for River Bend Shoes as a way to boost business by letting customers place orders online.
"Right now would be a great time to have that going into fall," said Gawlitta. "We could really use the money to offer the customers a lot more product."
He hired Gamino in early 2007, but had no idea about the problems other clients were having that let to esolutions’ F-rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Reporter: "He gave you a pretty good sales pitch, huh?"
Gawlitta: "Oh yeah. Oh yeah. He was really good, really good."
Gawlitta says Gamino promised he'd have the Web site up and running in just 15 weeks. In two years since, Gawlitta has yet to sell a pair of shoes online. The Web site Gamino built never worked. Gawlitta worries whether it hurt his store's reputation.
"I got a feeling that a lot of my customers at that point felt that may be even scammed or frauded," Gawlitta said.
After 18 months of waiting, Gawlitta sued Gamino and won. Last march, a judge ordered Gamino to pay Gawlitta more than $7,700. Another seven months have gone by and Gawlitta still hasn't seen a dime.
When we went back to talk to Gamino about Gawlitta's Web site, our reception was anything but friendly. When we knocked on his door, he slammed it in our face. As we headed back to the car, Gamino decided to come out for a chat with his own video camera.
Reporter: "Can we talk to you about some of this?"
Gamino: "That is not right. That is not right. You have no right anymore. You have no right. If you want to be a reporter, do your freakin' job. Don't give me this crap about putting up some..."
Reporter: "But what about this issue here with River Bend Shoes?"
Gamino: "You no longer earn a right as a reporter, and if I had my way, man, I swear to God, you should be fired, dude."
Remember, Gamino slammed the door on us two minutes earlier. Turns out, he had a lot to say, though more about us than the money he owed Gawlitta.
Gamino: "Leave that for the courts to decide."
Reporter "They decided."
Gamino: "You're not even a reporter. "I did a little bit of a background on you, and you don't even have a reporting background. That's kind of interesting."
Reporter: "I don't have a reporting background?"
Gamino: "You don't. Your background, your education, none of it's in journalism. You're not even a journalist, dude. Have a good day."
At that point Gamino started to walk away.
Reporter: "7700 bucks it says."
Gamino: "See ya' buddy."
Reporter: "You won't talk about that? What about the F-rating with the Better Business Bureau? Well, why did you come out? Just to yell at me?"
That's when Gamino spun around and came back.
Gamino: "Why did I come out?"
Reporter: "Let's talk about this."
Gamino: "You tried discrediting me and that's just wrong, dude."
Reporter: "I'm not discrediting you, it looks like you're discrediting yourself."
Gamino: "Next time, I'll come to your house. I'm going to come to your house."
Reporter: "Do you think this is credible what you're doing?"
Gamino: "I'm going to your house and I'm going to go invade your privacy."
Reporter: "We're on a public street. You came out to see me. You came out and talked to me. You slammed the door. We were getting ready to go, and you came out to talk to me."
Gamino: "I slammed the door, so I could go get my camera. You'll find it online, because we're going to exploit this type of [expletive]"
Reporter: "Are you going to pay this guy? The court says you've got to pay him, 7700 bucks. You gonna pay him?"
At that point Gamino turned and walked away for good without saying whether he planned to pay Eric Gawlitta.
"I may never see that again," Gawlitta lamented. "I may never see that money, and at this point with all the hassle that I've gone into it, chalk it up to a bad learning experience and go from there."
Obviously, the lesson from all of this is to do your homework before hiring someone to build a Web site or anything else.