Watch Out: Roofing Scams Popping Up in Wake of LA Storms

An elderly couple paid an unlicensed contractor $5,900 for roof repairs that instead made the problem worse.

Heads-up, Angelenos: Roofing scams are popping up in the wake of recent storms.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer warned residents Thursday about falling victim to roofing scams, saying his office has already received complaints. 

Feuer said his office has only received several complaints so far this year, but he is putting out the warning because "we are at this moment where we can prevent ... complaints if we do our work collectively well.''

At a news conference at City Hall East, Feuer highlighted a recent case where an elderly couple paid an unlicensed contractor $5,900 for roof repairs that instead made the problem worse.

Feuer's office is seeking more than $95,000 in restitution for the couple. The man was convicted of contracting without a license and must perform community service and was placed on probation for three years.

Feuer said consumers should be wary of contractors who show up at their door unsolicited, ask for a large down payment in advance, or say they will do the work without a permit.

Numerous problems are associated with hiring unlicensed contractors, Feuer said, noting that they often are not bonded, typically do not have workers' compensation insurance and are frequently not trained to do the work.

Rick Lopes, chief of public affairs for the California State Licensing Board, said some scam artists will prey on elderly, physically infirm couples, make up a non-existent roof repair problem and then pretend to do the work before making off with an easy payment.

Lopes estimated there are 60,000 to 70,000 unlicensed contractors working in the state and said his office gets roughly 20,000 complaints per year, but he could not say how many are related to roofing scams.

With the state having been in a severe drought the last few years, the scams change, Lopes said. He pointed out that roughly a year ago, he and Feuer held a similar news conference to warn about scams related to the drought.

"The fact is there are going to be people out there (doing scams) no matter what's happening,'' Lopes said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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