It is truly a sad time when a contractor or framer can commit fraud or damage to your property and not be criminally liable. The framer that we hired so far has cost us over $40,000.00 in repairs to his work, materials and additional construction time. Almost ALL work done by he and his crew had to be removed, the existing structure repaired, and then rebuilt. He committed fraud by giving us false information and damaged our property, yet he is not held accountable by the Mississippi State Attorney Generals Office. WHY??? It seems to be a rather common occurrence.
I was watching the New Orleans news last night (WWLTV channel 4) and they had a story about just such injustice in Louisiana. The story can be found at http://www.wwltv.com/home/Some-say-not-enough-being-done-to-prosecute-problem-contractors-67435917.html
Here’s an excerpt:
“These people are stealing $100,000 at a crack from people or $30,000 or $40,000,” Gurtler said. “They’re stealing big money, they’re leaving with the money and nobody’s doing anything about it.”
A freedom of information request discovered just how many complaints of contactor fraud the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has received since January 2006, and how many cases it has taken to trial.
In the past three and a half years, the office says it has gotten 8,315 complaints, 6,400 of them written reports. It has gone to trial with 28 cases, roughly 1 percent of all the complaints.
We try to pick the best cases, and each case represents a number of reports that were filed against a contractor,” said Trey Phillips, with Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
Philips said most cases involve three to five complaints against a single contractor, and a couple involve 12 and 13 complaints.
He argues the attorney general should get credit for working up to 100 cases where his staff has made an investigative demand for documents.
The attorney general can only prosecute civil cases involving deceptive unfair trade practices and says it needs to see a pattern.
“So that means you can come to Louisiana and violate the law three times and get a pass,” Gurtler said. “They only get excited when you have four.”
I don’t know the numbers for Mississippi but the experience we’ve had in our situation gives me the opinion that there isn’t much difference. It makes me sick how someone can do these things, preying on people in need, and get away scott free.
More details about our experience with contractor fraud in my “Our Story” series.