Local, state authorities urge caution against post-Isaac contractor fraud



Posted on September 5, 2012 at 10:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 5 at 11:01 PM

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- For some in the Venetian Isles neighborhood, the rebuilding effort is well underway.

"We gotta go 4 feet up with the sheetrock. We gotta get electrical inspectors. We gotta get plumbing inspectors. It's just, you know, you're going through and gutting the house and redoing it," said resident Gary Fehn, Jr.

Fehn, who works in construction, said he's going to do the bulk of the work himself.

"We’re guttin' the house out. We’re rippin' walls out."

However, many people across the metro area will need help to rebuild.

Contractors are already advertising services by posting signs, while others are riding through neighborhoods looking for work.

Local and state authorities urge storm victims to be alert for those who may try to take advantage.

"We will buttress our contractor fraud division in the office and we will aggressively prosecute those people who come down here and do attempt to take advantage of our citizens in their times of need," said Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Contractor fraud was a major problem after Hurricane Katrina, when people came from across the country to make a quick buck in the wake of that storm.

In many cases, they took the money, did little to no work, and then ran.

Gary Fehn heard many stories, first-hand.

"People coming from out of town and taking deposits from 'em and then leaving, it just puts more hurt on the people," he said.

State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell offers several tips to avoid contractor fraud. Some of them include:

-Verify the contractor’s name with the state contractor licensing board
-Do not agree to a large down payment
-Never pay with cash
-Get a written contract

Click here for the full list of tips.