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'They took my money' | Man says City of Houston pulled $7,500 out of his account for high water bill

Carl Castoreno said the water bill for his East End home is usually less than $50, but recently, he got one for $7,500.

HOUSTON — Carl Castoreno said he usually pays about $45 a month for his water bill.

His East End home is about 1,500 square feet and he said the water bill has never been over $100.

That all changed when the City of Houston recently sent him a $7,500 bill. On top of that, even after Castoreno called to contest the bill and the City said it wouldn't deduct money from his account, the money still ended up being pulled out of his bank account.

Castoreno is mad. He's desperate. He doesn't know what to do. He reached out to KHOU 11 News for help getting in touch with the City because he said he still hasn't gotten a response from them.

He said he initially called the City to find out what was going on with the extremely high bill.

"Everything is going to be handled. You can't do anything right now. All you can do is wait," Castoreno said they told him.

His account was frozen. He said he couldn't even remove the autopay feature. Castoreno said the City worker on the phone promised him that the money wouldn't be taken from his account, but that proved to be untrue, Castoreno said.

"I got a $7,500 bill and they took my money. They just took it out like that," he said. "How could this happen?"

Also, Castoreno said, the City's water bill website was down all weekend.

Castoreno said he got new plumbing installed about six months ago. Just to be safe, he said he called his plumber to inspect the home and make sure there wasn't a leak.

"That's impossible. Not unless something was cracked open. We would have seen evidence of that amount of water. I don't see that evidence here," the plumber said.

Castoreno is stuck in the middle of a stressful financial situation. He said he hopes the City does its part to resolve the issue soon.

"I really hope they make it right as soon as possible. I got a mortgage payment. I have my kids to pay for," Castoreno said. "I am scrambling to work more just to try to recoup funds now until they fix it."

KHOU 11 News reached out to the City, which said it couldn't comment about Castoreno or provide any information about his account until he signed a consent form, which he did sign and sent back to the City. City officials said they are reviewing the account and will try to get back to KHOU 11 News in a few days. They said customer account services work directly with customers on questions they have. Call 713-371-1400 for more information.

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