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.

Melissa Popp No Comments

Drug Busts Uncovers a Roofing Company Transporting Marijuana in Shingles

Criminals are always looking for a unique or clever way to get the best of everybody. Yes, criminals have done some pretty “creative” things and now they’ve even tried to commit crimes using the guise of good old fashioned roofing materials. The story seems like something out of Hollywood but it’s all true. Let’s look more into how these criminals tried to smuggle drugs in the U.S. using a pallet of shingles.

Smugglers attempted to transport 954 pounds of marijuana into the United States by stashing it within two pallets of innocent roofing shingles. The smugglers were caught after a K9 unit of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “hit on” the truck. The truck was moved to a secondary inspection area where officers managed to locate nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

“Smugglers will often try to conceal their contraband within a legitimate product, good work by vigilant CBP officers stopped the shipment cold,” said Beverly Good, CBP Director of the El Paso Port. When officers opened one pallet, they discovered that the center portion had been replaced by bags of marijuana. Additional searching found an additional pallet that was loaded up with the contraband, resulting in a seizure of 288 bundles of marijuana. This seizure comes less than a month after CBP officers found a similar operation of marijuana being smuggled in a load of carrots, upon further search many of the carrots were simply orange packages of tape loaded with marijuana.

Unfortunately there have been no arrests so far in the roofing shingle marijuana seizure, but CBP officers continue their investigation.

Fortunately, those who are having their home reroofed or repaired likely don’t need to be worry about any drugs in their roofing materials as this was an extremely isolated incident and the shingles were more than likely not going to end up in a reputable roofing supplier’s warehouse.

It just goes to show that criminals can be very resourceful when it comes to meeting their ends. This of course an isolated incident but here’s hoping they don’t try to keep the using the roofing world to take care of criminal activity.