Stephen Dwight, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney, and Tony Mancuso, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff, are working together to fight contractor fraud in the parish and have formed a Contractor Fraud Response Team.
“The incidence of contractor fraud is on the rise and we are taking action to send a clear message to those criminals who are taking advantage of our citizens as they work to rebuild and recover from last year’s hurricanes,” said Dwight. “We will pursue, arrest and prosecute anyone committing contractor fraud in Calcasieu Parish.”
Mancuso says a hotline has been established for the reporting of contractor fraud. “This is something we take very seriously and we want to make it easy for citizens to report cases of fraud. These criminals are taking advantage of citizens at a time they need help the most. We are not going to allow this to go on unchecked in our parish.”
He adds that prevention is also important, asking citizens to always check references and to be alert to the warning signs of common contractor scams, such as door-to-door solicitations, demands for cash, unusually large down payments, no references, no permanent address, high pressure sales or scare tactics, no insurance or license, or no contract.
When it comes to contractor fraud, Dwight explains that in some cases, the matter may be civil and not criminal. “There are some critical distinctions. Examples of civil matters are when faulty work is done or when a substantial amount of work has been completed. Contractor fraud is considered a criminal offense when the contractor fails to perform work 45 days after receiving payment, unless a longer period is specified in the contract. It is also considered fraud when a contractor does work without a construction license.”
Both Dwight and Mancuso urge citizens to report suspected fraud even if they are unsure whether actual criminal fraud has been committed. “We’ll look into the situation and determine if a crime has been committed,” said Mancuso. “If it has, we will file charges.”
The Contractor Fraud Response Team number is 337-437-3405.