The Office of State Attorney Glenn Hess announces that on November 9th, 2018, the State Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, created a Construction Fraud Task Force. It consists of a number of law enforcement agencies, building inspectors, and state agencies including building officials from Bay County, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Panama City Police Department, the Lynn Haven Police Department, and the Department of Homeland Security.
The purpose of the Construction Fraud Task Force is to protect the citizens of the 14th Circuit from the abuse of unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors from fraud, grand theft, and sub-standard construction. Our primary objective is to deter would-be violators.
The Construction Fraud Task Force has conducted undercover sting operations in Bay County on 5 separate dates and arrested 32 defendants for contracting without a Florida license. Those arrests were made in Lynn Haven and Panama City when individuals who represented themselves as roofing contractors gave estimates to undercover officers for the cost to roof a home damaged by Hurricane Michael. Most of the defendants were from Texas or Louisiana and only one was from Bay County.
Additionally, an undercover sting operation was conducted in Gulf County with the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office and Port St. Joe Police Department which resulted in the arrest of 2 defendants representing themselves as licensed roofing contractors.
The Construction Fraud Task Force, as part of its mission to prevent citizens from being “victimized” twice by Hurricane Michael, has attempted to educate the public about construction fraud by publicizing the sting operations, speaking to civic groups, posting signs stating that unlicensed contracting is a felony during a state of emergency, and distributing a brochure which highlights warning signs for homeowners when dealing with contractors.
Please review the Construction Fraud Task Force Brochure at the link below and if you have any questions please contact our office at (850) 872-4473.