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Notorious Colorado Roofing Scammer Sent to Prison

Colorado is filled with excellent roofing contractors who do an excellent job but there are undoubtedly some scammers. Luckily for homeowners those scammers are usually brought to justice as is the case for Jeffery Masias. Colorado Fourth District Federal Judge Gregory Werner sentenced Masias to a four-year prison sentence for taking more than $300,000 from 18 different people with no work performed or intent to perform. The judge declined the defense’s request for probation and chose a sentence between his options of two to six years. Masias had pleaded guilty to felony theft.

Masias took several thousand dollars from Colorado residents over a period of two years for jobs including bathroom remodels, deck maintenance and repair, and roofing. Masias ran his haphazard construction company as Masias’ Innovative RAC and did business under other entities.

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department revoked Masias’s Innovative RAC’s contractor license in December, 2018 before filing a lawsuit against him in the Fourth Judicial Court for unlicensed work and continued contracting without a license. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also revoked Masias’s accreditation after receiving 17 complaints in a two-year period.

Masias cost dozens across the Pikes Peak Region tens of thousands of dollars including a couple who paid Masias $58,000 for a deck project but were forced to pay another contractor an additional $40,00 to complete it. Masias had made several excuses for the delays and mishaps but the judge wasn’t hearing any excuses handing down the four-year term.

Finding a Reliable Roofing Contractor

It will take years for Masias’s victims to recoup their losses, but you can avoid hiring a scammer by following a few simple steps:

  • Read Online Reviews – Online reviews are a wealth of information on how a company operates. A few bad reviews aren’t cause for alarm but if the company ranks poorly across different review sites – they are no good for your roof.
  • Check Licensing and Insurance – Your roofing contractor must be licensed with your local city and carry liability insurance.
  • Check the BBB – Check that your contractor is accredited with your local BBB. Look for an A+ rating for the most confidence.
  • Get Personal Referrals – Before hiring, ask potential hires for references and referrals. Talk to their previous customers for a unique perspective into how the roofer operates.

Jeffery Masias is a good example of everything that’s wrong in the roofing industry but there are more good guys in roofing than bad. Use the steps above and more to only hire the best roofing contractor.

Melissa Popp No Comments

Richmond, VA Roofer Scam Swindles Residents

The saying goes it only takes on bad apple to spoil the bunch and unfortunately that old adage rings true when it comes to the roofing industry. That’s what residents of Richmond, Virginia are learning about a man who has been scamming local residents for multiple years.

Authorities are now on the search for 55-year old Thomas Taylor who is accused of swindling Richmond residents out of thousands of dollars for roof repairs and other work that is entirely unnecessary. The suspect has hit multiple neighborhoods recently and left homeowners scratching their heads and trying to figure out how they can recoup their losses.

Unfortunately, this not the first time that a roofing scam and even Taylor himself has hit the same neighborhood for a quick buck. “The man comes into the neighborhood periodically and will approach a homeowner and tell them there’s a problem with the gutters or shingles. “If they’re unfamiliar with him or new to the area, often they’ll let him put a ladder to the home and climb onto the roof. He’ll often magnify the extent of the issue,” says Elizabeth Roderick. Roderick is in charge of overseeing the crime watch for Westover Hills Homeowners Association, a neighborhood that has been repeatedly preyed upon by Taylor.

Taylor will often hand over a business care to give the illusion that he is licensed and experienced though he will often make up issues with a home’s roof and gutters to make the “fix” and walk away with the homeowner’s money.

There are multiple ways that homeowners can avoid a person like Taylor’s scams or many other roof scams. Here are some quick tips on how to avoid criminals like Taylor.

  • Be wary of door-knockers and roofing contractors who come to your door
  • Always ask who a person works for and their credentials such as licenses, insurance information, and registrations before allowing them on your roofs
  • Never pay a roofer up front, wait until a job you requested is taken care of and you are satisfied with results

By being cautious and doing extra research, you can avoid many of the scams that some Richmond residents have fallen for. When it comes to your home, it always pays to be vigilant and thorough.

Melissa Popp No Comments

Roofing Company Faces Fines Due to Safety Violations

The Roof Doctor Inc. has been cited by The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for exposing workers to fall hazards without the proper protection equipment. According to the State Department of Labor & Industries, The Roof Doctor is responsible for making six “willful violations” while their workers were roofing a house in Castle Rock in July from heights reaching up to 23 feet.

Each of the six violations carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $70,000 bringing the total to over $420,000 in fines. During the Labor and Industries Department investigation into The Roof Doctor’s operations the company was also cited for one serious violation that carries a penalty of $7,000 and is described as failure to effectively train workers in how to use systems and equipment designed to protect against falls. The company reportedly required workers to pay for their own protective equipment which should have been provided at no cost.

“Falls from heights are completely preventable, and yet they’re a leading cause of worker fatalities and hospitalizations in our state,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director for the Labor and Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “We’re hopeful that this will lead to proper fall protection practices for all of their workers, all the time, going forward.”

According to reports from the Labor and Industries Department this is the eighth time that The Roof Doctor has been cited for fall protection violations since 2012. In addition, this is the second six figure fine that the company has incurred since 2014. The last citation, totaling over $200,000 in fines, is currently under appeal.

Multiple violations have labeled The Roof Doctor as a severe violator by the Labor and Industries Department and thus subject to follow-up inspections which will determine if the conditions continue to exist in the future. The Roof Doctor is one of Washington State’s largest roofing companies and employs over one hundred employees in nine counties. The company currently has until February 12th to appeal the fine and any money paid as a result of the fines will go to the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund.

Melissa Popp No Comments

Online Review Leads to Roofing Lawsuit

Websites such as Angie’s List and Yelp allow consumers to leave ratings and reviews for a company whose services they have employed and these sites are known to highly influence traffic and public opinion of a company. One user, Ted McCluskey of St. Louis, received quite a shock after leaving a negative review of a roofing company on Angie’s List when, a few days later, he received a letter from an attorney hired on behalf of the company. The letter stated that any further postings by McCluskey that directly referenced the roofing company, Signature Exteriors, would result in the filing of a lawsuit in which the company would seek maximum monetary damages from McCluskey as equitable relief.

Obviously to receive an official legal document referencing a potential lawsuit would make anyone nervous. McCluskey, however, insisted that he would not be quieted by the company’s legal scare tactics and he would defend his review in court if necessary.

Ultimately it is rare to find a suit over an online review posted by a consumer but there can be risks. With so many people posting reviews on sites such as Angie’s List it is important to know the rights of a consumer and avenues that a company may take in response to a published negative review.

It is impossible to say precisely how many letters have arrived in consumers mailboxes threatening legal action on behalf of a client that has been negatively reviewed. There have been seven such cases nationwide against reviewers on Yelp and Angie’s List made public over the past four years. Angie’s List spokeswoman Cheryl Reed says there have been a “random handful” and many more probably go unreported.

What consumers need to remember is that slander and libel are civil, not criminal. Meaning that you are not going to be thrown in jail for dissing a roofer; you do still have the right to freedom of speech. However, a business does have the right to sue you for damages in the form of money.

Generally the most important rule to remember is to tell the truth and document it any way that you can. If you hire a company to build a fence, and it blows down the next day, you can say so even though it makes the builder look bad. Calling the company a band of thieves however, is not a supportable action unless you they have all been convicted or you have footage of them literally stealing your possessions. You’re safe when simply expressing opinion, just be sure to not misstate a fact.

 

Melissa Popp No Comments

Texas Looking for New Roofing Regulations

After a big storm hits, neighborhoods are often crawling with roofing companies that pop up overnight. Many of these fly-by-night roofing companies are not properly licensed, insured and some can even be made up of outright criminals. These roof scammers will often prey on the elderly or people who don’t have the proper information which can be bad for the whole community.

One Texas State Representative wants Texas to do more to protect the local communities by stepping up regulations for roofing companies. State Representative Kenneth Sheets is tired of local residents being taken for a ride and wants the state of Texas to intervene by requiring roofing companies to carry state-issued occupational licenses, create a voluntary registry, or by other means.

The issue has received both support and opposition from local contracting companies with the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association and the Professional Roofing Standards Council supporting some form of regulation while Texas Independent Roofing Contractor’s Association and US Hispanic Contractors Association are against any further regulation.

Rep. Sheets seems to have his consituents in mind as he pushes for regulations. Sheet’s Chief of Staff Dustin Meador spoke on the issues stating, “This is one of those things he hears about most from people in the district.” Meador knows they face multiple opinions and opposition on the matter stating, “We hear from people who say they’re against the bill because it doesn’t go far enough,” and “There are some who think this is just another form of protectionism for the industry.”

Any regulation is opposed by attorney for the Insititute for Justice, Arif Panju who has gone up against government regulation in the past. He spoke on his opposition to potential regulation, “The roofing industry in Texas is fully capable of regulating itself through voluntary certification or licensing, not unlike that offered by the Roofing Contractor’s Association of Texas,” said Panju. Panju continued, “The courts have made it clear there has to be evidence of a real problem. Mere assertions are insufficient.”

Rep. Sheets has tried and failed on multiple occasions to address the issues he says but despite the opposition, he will continue on with his fight for roofing contractor regulation by introducing another bill at the next congressional session.