What Is Construction Fraud In West Palm Beach?
Felix and his friends have a small pickup truck and consider themselves to be handymen. They decide it would be a great idea to go door to door in a senior living community and advertise basic handy services such as drywall, carpeting, painting, patching concrete and landscaping work. They manage to sign up over 50 new clients for various tasks including building a disability access ramp, fixing a stairwell, and renovating a bathroom. They collect a deposit from each client in the amount of eight hundred dollars, show up once to start work, tear up each resident’s home, and never return to complete any of the jobs because they lose their contracting license. Is this illegal?
What is Construction Fraud?
Fraud is defined as deliberately attempting to or succeeding in deceiving someone by unethical means. For example, lying to someone about the benefits of a supposed miracle elixir that is meant to cure all for money is an example of fraud. Purporting to be someone else for financial gain, such as identity theft and cyber theft, is also an example of fraud. Almost all instances of fraud are prosecuted as a felony. Construction fraud is unique because it involves home or commercial repairs. Sometimes construction fraud can take on a sophisticated angle, where a company might be licensed, bonded and insured, only to disappear overnight. Sometimes the company might take an initial deposit only to “ghost” or disappear on the client. Worse, a company might begin work only not to finish it, or complete work using shoddy materials or without conformity to building codes.
What are the Penalties for Construction Fraud?
The penalty for construction fraud in Florida is dependent on the unique circumstances of each alleged crime. All contractors must be licensed in Florida to do business, prepare estimates or make repairs. The penalty for unlicensed contracting in Florida is up to 1 year in jail, 12 months of probation and a $1,000 fine for each instance of unlicensed contracting. When a contractor refuses to refund an initial deposit or portion of money owed to the client within ninety days and after receiving written demand for it, they can be prosecuted. The client/contractor may also be able to pursue civil damages for material breach of contract, either a total breach or partial breach.
If the defendant receives more than $1,000 dollars in contracting funds but less than $20,000, they can be charged with a third-degree felony. If they receive more than $20,000 but less than $200,000 they can be charged with a second-degree felony. If the total received is more than $200,000, the defendant can be charged with a first-degree felony.
Contact Attorney William Wallshein
If you or a loved one have been charged with construction fraud or unlicensed contracting, you need the advice of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Attorney William Wallshein is a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney with more than thirty-five years of experience handling all types of criminal cases, including construction fraud. Call today to schedule a free consultation.