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Has anyone pursued/been successful getting settlement via "Construction Fraud' ?

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  • Has anyone pursued/been successful getting settlement via "Construction Fraud' ?

    ---had a horsey friend tell me that she had used a contractor once, who did barn addition, and did it so badly, that she was directed via friends to look into obtaining return of monies via alerting her local Commonwealth Attorney's office (we're in VA) of the situation. Supposedly? (she and I still have yet to connect and discuss this at length) She said the CA did pursue it, he was arrested and told he'd serve jail time if he didn't pay her back (she had to have the work demolished and re done)...so, she said she never had to go to court, and he had to return her $$$.

    Am trying to collect/understand/research this as best I can, and wondered (as it IS indeed horse related for me: in my case, as well, it is work done on my barn) if anyone here has had any experience with this situation. I realize it can vary state to state, but the concept is the same....Fraud via construction work and costs.

    TIA !
    "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
    --Jimmy Buffett

  • #2
    If you believe you have been harmed, I suggest strongly that you consult an attorney versed in contract law.

    Documentation, documentation, documentation just as location, location ,location are the three most important aspects of real estate; documentation is the foundation of successful legation.

    What was the contractor supposed to have been done? What was done? What was done incorrectly? Why is there the failure to meet the needs of the contract.

    If you had a contract was there a specification guide? In the construction fiascos that I have been involved with, the specifications of the projects were poorly written leaving gaping holes of interruption. Unless it specified to use a specific grade/item in the construction just because a contractor may have used #2 Yellow pine for a barn's framing does not mean they have diverted from the intent of the contract when you were expecting #1 as the contractor has not compromised the strength of the building.

    Who was in charge of the project's oversight? Was there not a stop order put in place when it became apparent that the project had gone off course?

    In a specific case, the site was to have been raised to a specific elevation. The contractor billed the owner for one hundred cubic yards of fill; problem was it was calculated to have required only thirty five cubic yards. I suggested to the attorney that the contractor produce the haul receipts for the fill. Contractor was unable to produce the records. The court awarded the owner damages for fraudulent billing as the professional engineer's calculations matched our estimation.
    Last edited by clanter; Jan. 27, 2013, 11:26 AM.


    • Original Poster

      clanter: You are WONDERFUL to share such totally to the point interjections, I SO appreciate it!
      Yes, this I find is 'entirely' my fault in re: trusting vs. questioning. If that in itself sets a 'well, then don't go after him' then of course, that is what I need to hear.
      This guy is a lifelong resident of the area.....talked a HUGE game/promise.....my mom was drawn to him because of being a native and all his bragging and discussion of various families, etc. So, yes. We trusted. When asked if he was licensed and insured: Oh, yes, ma'm. On his business card: says the same....IN PRINT.
      Ok...entered into contract. Contract top RH form states: CONTRACTOR'S INVOICE.
      He told me at time of presenting job bid:" Even my wife was concerned with how high of an estimate I gave, but I assured her: I want to do this job with top of the line needs included...they can always whittle down from there to cheaper if need be"----- ok, so: job involved some specific requests, and as I live elsewhere, as work proceeded I was to get phone call updates/discussions/concerns. Didn't happen. This guy wanted to be paid before contract work was completed, before I got to review job.....as it was Christmas, and he wanted the money to pay his worker and buy his family Christmas presents. My mom paid in full. He was to return on Dec 27 to finish. He didn't. I started a paper trail, and sent a confirmation receipt letter to him inquireing where we were at? ..... After no reply, I began to try to look him up via the VA state licensing website. ....... Turns out license was a lie. Not licensed. Sent another letter to him with return receipt that he was to pick up his remaining tools at the end of the lane, not to enter property and that he could not return to work as we had learned he was not licensed as he claimed. Now, we're involved with getting bids on two things: what he did NOT do in the contract, plus :what he did wrong (and needs correction/re do in order to be structurally sound and insureable)
      "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
      --Jimmy Buffett


      • #4
        You got burned all right. Never ever pay off without inspecting and signing off completion first, it's the first rule of dealing with contractors. I think you need to consult an attorney on Monday, he may not be collectible and without the license (next time look for the actual license #) there are fewer avenues of recourse, like you can't threaten to have it taken away if he doesn't have it.

        This is the kind of thing that happens after natural disasters - they show up and need an advance to begin work, and *poof*. This guy did do some work for you and then quit, now you have ordered him off the property so he can't complete even if he intended to (for good reason, I understand he lied about his status), at least consult with a local lawyer ASAP. And don't let your mother handle the funds next time!
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #5
          As a starting point, which you may have already done, contact

          Compliance and Investigations Division

          Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
          9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400
          Richmond, Virginia 23233-1463

          Phone: (804) 367-8504
          FAX: (866) 282-3932
          Email: ComplaintAnalysis@dpor.virginia.gov

          "DPOR and its regulatory boards CANNOT require any individual or business to refund money, correct deficiencies, or provide other personal remedies. In some cases, private legal action may be your only recourse to resolve a matter. DPOR cannot provide legal advice. "



          You need to establish an approximated amount of the damages/short falls in order to decide which avenue you need to proceed. Does the contractor have the assets pay a judgement?


          • Original Poster

            Re: believe me...I get it. I know we were entirely trusting and that is the biggest issue.....
            but the 'no, you cannot continue work' is due to how much of a crook he is, and how I'm at this point ???? thrilled he didn't pull a 'I fell of the ladder, and you have to pay' kinda thing on my mom.

            also: the fraud would for the most part: lie in the fact that he claimed and assured us he was indeed licensed, and isn't... in the state of VA, this is a misdemeanor in itself, due to the fact its criminal. and his work is not insurable, therefore as well as: right now, (while I've only obtained one bid from a LICENSED contractor...his estimate was that to bring up to insureable standards/code, it would cost us about $7K to REDO what we paid first crook $6500 for. So, there is the items he never got to finish, once we knew he'd lied and could fake an accident or anything else to gut us some more....as WELL as what we're investigating that we must now pay double for??? to fix!
            "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
            --Jimmy Buffett


            • Original Poster

              yes, clanter...thanks, and I have indeed visited, frequented that site. My understanding is: there isn't anyway to obtain repay of funds from the board because he is NOT licensed. Thus, my interest in what my friend mentioned, in re: Construction Fraud, and how for her, it worked vs. going to court, as in: he was ordered to repay her or go to jail. Which is why I'm trying to learn all I can about it.
              "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
              --Jimmy Buffett


              • #8
                You may have miss understood my direction, you need to establish the fact the contractor does not legally have the licence they claimed to have.

                Surely, at least here, if a licence is required to preform the work within the state there are penalties for not having the proper licence


                • Original Poster

                  yes...that is an avenue, and it would be successful as he himself has admitted he does not have what he represented he had in licensing. However, that is something that would hold him accountable for no license, but would not obtain / provide any repay for us. Thus why I am indeed interested in: instead the Construction Fraud avenue, if indeed to avoid jail time the courts can insist on repay? as my friend mentioned.
                  "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                  --Jimmy Buffett


                  • #10
                    regarding the specific trade I am involved with here, the state imposed fines here are $10,000 per incident of not having the correct licence


                    • Original Poster

                      yes...again, We've known we could indeed report him, and because of bidding/obtaining work in construction that in our state does indeed require a license for (because of the amount/job cost)....that they could prosecute criminally for it. But..any regain of our costs would be on us = civil.....so, my interest was indeed in: what my friend relayed in re: Construction Fraud, and how it ended up for her, to be an instance of he was ordered to repay her or ..... go to jail. (which would not be the case at all in re: pursuing the criminal aspect of not being licensed....)
                      "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                      --Jimmy Buffett


                      • #12
                        Unfortunately in my state, Georgia, civil attorneys would always tell their clients to go swear out a criminal warrant for anything: pavement of driveways gone wrong, furniture repairs gone wrong, roof repairs gone wrong, home repairs or construction gone wrong, etc. So then we'd get the cases. Now we had grand jury 2x a week, and each got 1/12 of all the felony crimes in Atlanta, but we still got all the quasi-criminal, quasi-civil disputes because civil attorneys knew that we and the probation department would have to collect the money. And we did not get the 38% of recovery that was the going rate for collections lawyers. So while our rape victims and murder victims' families and all were patient, we had angry civil "victims" raising **** to get their money back. All this while our city was #1 in murders for several years. And oh yes, the "victims" of the quasi-fraud cases all called to complain constantly that we didn't get their money fast enough. (Including Lewis Grizzard, who complained in print about me and my judge even though the defendant pled guilty and made restitution.)

                        I say sue civilly. If you are ever the victim of rape or armed robbery or murder, you will not appreciate the state prosecutors being used as collection agencies.


                        • Original Poster

                          I guess some background in my previous relying on law enforcement is appropo here.......I was a victim of tack theft in 2006. My locked horse trailer at my boarding barn was crowbarred open. My $2,000 (that I'd waited a lifetime for) Crosby saddle was stolen. My very dear Circle Y headstall-sliver ear, silver bit hangers, etc, vintage bit and romal reins stolen. Turns out: my stablemate was the thief. She sold each bridle piece on ebay. Saddle never found. My local law enforcement was SO un interested....even though there was a trail of this person doing this time and again ..... many varied counties in VA, over MANY years...(first court cases back in 1999) anyway. I'll never forget the months and months of trying to get anyone to care...and having the DA tell me: "Well, its not like she killed anyone"...........sometimes, you can't win even when its 'right'
                          "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                          --Jimmy Buffett