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marialisa's avatar

Why isn't a person criminally charged when they pose as a licensed contractor and they are are lying and comitting fraud?

Asked by marialisa (464 points ) November 3rd, 2010

I had a guy scam me out of $400 plus dollars saying he was a Class A Master Electrician. All work needs to be redone and the materials used as in wrong wire could have burned my home down.

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22 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

How do you know he wasn’t licensed? Did you ask to see the license when you hired him? That’s the point of it, after all. So that you can review and verify his credentials. If you didn’t do that, then how do you expect the licensing system to work, anyway?

You can always sue him based on shoddy performance, whether he was licensed or not.

If he wasn’t licensed and you hired him anyway, then you were somewhat complicit in his “crime”, if he committed one.

And if you believe that he defrauded you with a counterfeit license or other credentials (which you reviewed), then you need to file a complaint which, depending on the merits of the complaint and subsequent investigation (if any) result in prosecution.

But it doesn’t happen automatically just because you aren’t happy with the work that was done.

Judi's avatar

In California a person needs a license if they charge more than $500.00. A guy scammed my daughter into thinking he was a licensed contractor when he put a patio cover in her back yard. She complained when he kept asking for “draws” but didn’t finish the work. He actually ended up going to jail for contracting without a license. Your $400.00 job would fall below the limit though.

marialisa's avatar

@CyanoticWasp
Well I will private message you on some response. Other than that i completely was fooled by his professional ad and his estimate. He also told me he was licensed after I told him I do not hire “unlicensed”. When I had to have the first part of his work redone he had changed his phone number. While getting my work redone by my “Licensed” contractor he told me I had the wrong gauge wire. It could melt and burn my home down. The Fraudulent Elecctrician would not fix the first problem so I called the Dept. of Labor and Industry only to find he was never even an apprentive or journeyman or Master electrician. All work needs redoing and I have spent $500.00 on this so far. I will spend $400.00 more. The scammer wouldnt fix the problem or return my money. He hung up on me and said he would get me for harassment if I called or emailed him again.

woodcutter's avatar

400 bucks seems sort of cheap for a real electrician to ask for. You didn’t say what he did. That should have been a red flag right there.I hope that you aren’t the kind of person who looks at cost first before quality. Folks who do that tend to be the ones who are shocked when they see the outcome. What kind of vehicle did he show up in? Somewhere on the side of it should have had a license # in plain sight. Did the first guy supply all materials or did you get them yourself?

marialisa's avatar

@woodcutter
A real nice Audi

Judi's avatar

@woodcutter ; The guy who scammed my daughter had a brand new pick-up truck and the name of his business “Made in the Shade” professionally painted on it. The contract he presented looked very professional and he even pulled a building permit. (He told her husband that he needed to sign a power of attorney to pull the permit. Being new home owners and not knowing any better they just thought it was standard procedure.)
In California, here is where you check a license status

YARNLADY's avatar

The charges come from the district attorney, after there has been an investigation and arrest. Except for special ‘enforcement days’ the state of California has stopped investigating or prosecuting these so-called domestic fraud cases.

Judi's avatar

@YARNLADY ; It was less than a year ago that my daughters fake contractor went to jail, but his contract was a pretty damaging piece of evidence.

woodcutter's avatar

@marialisa An Audi? Oh my god! It takes a lot of work for someone to be able to be a plumber or electrician due to all the schools they need to have so that state license # is sort of a badge of pride that they want all to see when they are out. I think that it is required to be visible someplace. It is just good and practical business to show up for an estimate in the work truck as there is always a need to get out a tool or something, as well as that Licence # on the side. Hmmm interesting.

john65pennington's avatar

First, where you live, do you have a Codes Inspector? if so, call and ask for an inspector to pay you a visit. explain the situation to him and learn which laws he has violated, for your particular area.

marialisa's avatar

@john65pennington
I am trying to get a hold of the city/state inspector who has no email and doesnt take messages. I called him today and he only takes calls 1½ hours per/day. I had just missed him. I am waiting for him to do an inspection before the work is redone. The scammer was very professional in his advertisement and the 2 estimates he gave me. I emailed him when he forgot my receipt and he said he’d bring it by 5. I have emails and estimates and pictures for proof. Other estimates were comparable to his. He ran wire for a stove that was wrong (could have burned my home down by melting) and put 2 receptacles higher for cabinet height. He did both jobs totally wrong.

marialisa's avatar

@YARNLADY
@john65pennington
@woodcutter
@Judi
@CyanoticWasp
I have a new bid from a Master electrician of $370.00. So I have spent $413.00+$100.00+$370.00=$883.00 to raise 2 outlets and run 75 ft. of wire to hook up a 40 amp stove/oven. It should have cost me about $400.00 the first time with a real “Licensed Electrician”.

Judi's avatar

Did they pull a building permit?
That price sounds ok if they skipped the permit, but if they pull a permit I would think it would be more.

marialisa's avatar

@Judi
He did not pull any permit, I have the City Electrical Inspecter coming shortly.

Judi's avatar

The inspctor usually only comes to sign off on a permit. Unless you called and reported that he didn’t pull a permit?

marialisa's avatar

@Judi
I explained how I was scammed by this guy and that the Dept. of Labor told me to contact him and see what he could do for me and to prove my case. I think when I told him the story he was P.O.‘d!

marialisa's avatar

@Judi @YARNLADY @john65pennington @woodcutter @CyanoticWasp
The City Electrical Inspecter AND the Building Inspector came from my sate and city. They documented everything and took my proof. They said the Dept of Labor and Industry will get him into huge trouble for this. I am also filing a complaint form.

YARNLADY's avatar

@marialisa * * * Y A Y * * *

mollysmithee's avatar

He can be charged with fraud. If for some reason he is not criminally charged, you can try taking out a civil case against him. Here is an article on fraud that may help: http://www.criminallawyerbocaraton.com/articles/forms-of-fraud/

marialisa's avatar

@mollysmithee @YARNLADY @Judi @john65pennington @woodcutter @CyanoticWasp
:)
Here is an update of the Complaint I filed with my State Department of Labor and Industry.
Scammer (fake electrician) got a 10-day letter from the State Department of Labor and Industry.
He has to respond to the letter. This is what he is told to do…
As an unlicensed entity, he is responsible for “securing the services” (hiring) of a properly licensed electrical contractor to file a permit with the City, review all scammers work performed in my home, make any corrections per the National Electrical Code, and arrange for an inspection. This is all at the expense of scammer.

If scammer responds to the 10-day letter in a timely manner and is cooperative, he will be provided with the opportunity to settle this informally, by creating a Consent Order that he would sign off on and agree to. If he hasn’t hired a contractor by the time he responds, then one of the terms in the Consent Order would indicate a “deadline” date within which to do so. In addition, another term of the Consent Order would be the payment of a monetary civil penalty assessed against him. Indicate a particular dollar amount with a certain amount “stayed”. For example, it’s a $5000 fine with a $4000 stayed. That means he must pay a $1000 penalty up front, and if department catches him performing electrical work or offering to perform electrical work or if he commits any other violations of the State Electrical Act within the next three years, he will have to pay the additional $4000. If scammer decides not to respond to the 10-day letter. If that’s the case, then he will issued an Administrative Order, which is usually more heavy-handed with a higher monetary civil penalty assessment than what the Consent Order would have indicated. The Admin Order offers him 30 days within which to file for a hearing. If he fails to request a hearing, then the Order stands “as is”. If there is a monetary civil penalty included in the Admin Order that he fails to pay, we then refer this to the County for a judgment against him. Once we receive a judgment at the county level, we refer the case to the Collection Enterprise, which is housed at the Department of Revenue. My understanding is, if scammer does not cooperate with the Dept of Revenue, they have the authority to: (a) file a lien against any property he owns; (b) garnishee his wages; and/or© collect the penalty monies from any tax returns he files.
So far so good! He should get the letter soon.

YARNLADY's avatar

@marialisa Thanks for the update

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