Whenever a big storm hits, it leaves a lot of work for contractors to do in its wake. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals tend to follow disasters, just looking for homeowners and insurance companies to take advantage of.
The Contractor Fraud Response Team is seeking to make cases of fraud easier to report and investigate.
Contractor Fraud Response Team
A joint effort between a local contractor and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff department formed the Contractor Fraud Task Response Team. It is currently investigating 250 fraud cases. The sheriff’s office provides three detectives and a dedicated phone line to the team. Additionally, the president of the Louisiana Contractor Board assigned an investigator to the task force and the District Attorney’s office partnered with the Better Business Bureau.
How the team works
Homeowners call the team to report fraud complaints and then set an appointment with a detective. The detective takes a statement and collects evidence such as signed contracts, photographs and canceled checks. The detective then determines whether the case is criminal or civil in nature. Quality of work complaints are civil matters and are not prosecuted as fraud. Fraud can either be a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the dollar amount involved.
It is relatively common for disputes to arise between contractors, insurance companies and customers. Sometimes those disputes may result in fraud allegations. Contractors should take care to avoid actions that may give the appearance of fraudulent activity, such as not paying suppliers or taking large upfront payments for work they cannot complete on time.