SAN JOAQUIN, Calif. (KFSN) -- Small business owners are coming forward saying they lost money to a man who said they would build them a food truck.
They're hoping by speaking out about their experiences will save others from losing their hard-earned money.
Jeronimo Nicanor, or Chef Niko as his customers know him, dishes out teppanyaki around the Valley with his wife Adriana.
The couple caters for events toting their grill and supplies around in a trailer.
"So, it's hard for us to unload everything, take the trailer and then put the tables down our grill and all the equipment is heavy," said Jeronimo Nicanor, Kaji Teppanyaki. "And then plus cooking and cleaning and can go back and put everything back as hard."
Earlier this year, they looked to expand their business by investing in a food truck.
They found a company based out of Ceres called 8 A Food Trucks, owned by Fernando Ochoa.
After several meetings and seeing Ochoa's work, the Nicanors decided to move forward.
Taking out a $20,000 loan for him to draw up a contract and plans. They said the health department approved the plans in early March and Ochoa told them he would get to work.
"He said it would take him like three weeks to four weeks to have our trailer done," said Adriana Nicanor, Kaji Teppanyaki.
They let a month pass by thinking Ochoa was working on their truck, but when they didn't hear anything they reached out. Adriana said calls through their personal numbers went unanswered, but she was eventually able to contact him through their work number.
"I'll look into your project and I'll call you tomorrow," said Adriana Nicanor. "He never did. And then we started trying to get a hold of him and he never answered."
In June, with still no truck and hearing from other business owners experiencing the same thing, they reached out to the Ceres Police to file a report. The department confirmed to Action News that a report was filed, but could not say where that investigation stands.
Norma Estevez and her husband Sebastian Delgado are in a similar situation.
They paid $60,000 to Ochoa for two food trucks. They said for months he was giving them updates, but avoided letting them into the shop.
"Kept sending me pictures and say, you know, we're on the stage of the build, you know, one of the creditors is almost finished, the other trailers are coming along and everything," said Sebastian Delgado, paid $60k for food truck "And then every time we made an appointment to go see the trailers and everything, he always made an excuse that he was going out of town, but he was busy
Estevez is now in the process of suing Ochoa.
The Ceres Police Department confirmed to Action News a report was filed by the Nicanors, but could not say where that investigation stands. Action News tried reaching out to 8 A Food Truck, but both the email and phone numbers listed on their website do not work.
The Nicanors said they are also working with a lawyer to get their money back. They aren't sure they'll see that money, but hope by speaking out they'll prevent other people from falling victim.
"We're still paying... paying that money, we still owe it, we're still repaying it," said Adriana Nicanor. "We got other loans to pay, you know, the lawyer, and it's just a step back."
The Nicanors have set up a GoFundMe to try to recover some of the funds.