From builders to tree trimmers, we see a lot of fraud in the world of contracting. This week’s story comes from the Fraud Dog’s stomping grounds. Hernando County Sheriff’s detectives arrested three men claiming to be licensed contractors in early November.

Paul Kariotis, 58 of Spring Hill, Phillip Vance Ortiz, 55, and Darrell Taylor, both of Brooksville were arrested Nov. 10 after undercover detectives caught them falsely advertising themselves as licensed contractors. In a sting organized by detectives, each man was called individually, asked to do work and were consequently arrested at a pre-determined location when they arrived to give an estimate. According to WTSP.com, all three men were charged with fraud for falsely identifying themselves as contractors. “The Economic Crimes Unit has recognized the growing problem in Hernando with individuals advertising themselves in Craig’s List, newspapers, and other forms of advertisments as licensed contractors,” reported the article. “The sheriff’s office says they will continue to monitor this problem and make arrests.”

Detectives report that there has been a significant increase in fraud reported against the elderly, particularly in the area of air conditioning repairs. Here are some tips from WTSP.com on how to avoid being scammed:

  • Make sure they get a second estimate, NOT referred by the original contractor, on all contractor-related repairs and/or construction
  • Don’t tell the second contractor that you already obtained a first estimate
  • Always tell first contractor you won’t agree to a contract until you get a second, third, or even fourth estimate
  • Ask for license copies and/or license numbers, insurance, and any other materials that the profession requires
  • Be cautious of high pressure sales
  • Always review your estimates with a trusted family member or friend before entering into a contract
  • Confirm that a contractor is licensed in the State of Florida consumers can go to www.myfloridalicense.com.

The Fraud Dog says: “Elderly communities can be an easy target for the fraudster. Elderly people should do their due diligence, consult with neighbors, family members, and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they know who they are doing business with. Take time to get several estimates, and get comparable quotes.”

Contact Contego Services Group today for risk management services, fraud investigation services and more. Whether you’re looking for help with medical fraud, medicare fraud or any other type of fraid, Linda Webb and Contego Services Group can help you take down the fraudsters that are hurting your business. Call 1-855-WE-SWARM today.

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