PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — 14th Circuit State Attorney Larry Basford said hundreds of Bay County residents lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraudulent contractors after Hurricane Michael.
“We had unlicensed people coming into the area,” Basford said. “Whether that was general contractors, roofers, people making repairs and getting citizens to assign their benefits to them.”
Basford said some cases are still ongoing. Fraud delayed the home repair process for many residents.
Basford said much of the fraud was from unlicensed contractors asking people to assign their insurance settlements to them.
“Some of the cases involve tens of thousands of dollars in restitution for our homeowners,” Basford said.
Basford said some contractors performed shoddy or unnecessary repairs.
Some never finished the work but took the money. He’s concerned there will be fraud in South Florida as they repair from Hurricane Ian.
“Sometimes these unlicensed contractors would get a substantial deposit and then leave without making any of the repairs,” Basford said. “Or make substandard repairs that would not pass inspection.”
Homeowners can avoid scam artists by using a list of licensed contractors. The Bay County Chamber of Commerce said people should use the Disaster Contractors Network.
“If they’re not dealing with licensed contractors then they’re going to have problems later on resolving issues with their insurance company and getting the proper,” Basford said.