Bogus contractor spotted in Belhaven

Published 7:32 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

BELHAVEN — A van drives up to a flood-damaged home, offering to perform repairs on ductwork and insulation. The van is unmarked, and the supposed contractor doesn’t have references or a contractor’s driver’s license. They don’t want the homeowner to contact their insurance company and pressure them to make quick repairs.

For Beaufort County residents dealing with home repairs after Hurricane Florence, the situation described above should raise red flags. Such was the case in Belhaven last week, as contractors made their rounds through the area, offering to add homes to a list of repairs for an upfront fee of $25. According to information provided by the Town of Belhaven, the individuals were claiming to be affiliated with one of the relief organizations operating in the area.

Fortunately, according to Belhaven Police Chief F.P. Clingenpeel, to his knowledge, no one in town fell prey to the scheme.

“There was only one case of fraudulent contractor activity that I’m aware of,” Clingenpeel said. “It came through the town itself, but by the time it came to me, the people were gone. The contractors were offering to take care of insulation or ductwork. They were telling people that to get on their list, it would require a $25 deposit.”

Clingenpeel went on to say the individuals had left Belhaven by the time he received the information and the BPD had not received any complaints since.

“I’m confident that it happened,” Clingenpeel said. “But I’m not sure there were any actual victims.”

While no money may have changed hands in this instance, the incident serves as a reminder that there are unscrupulous individuals who are all too willing take advantage of storm survivors for their own personal benefit.

Shortly after recovery began following Florence, Beaufort County Crime Stoppers offered the following tips to avoid scams:

  • Be suspicious of contractors who pressure you into making rushed temporary repairs, especially if the repairs are not an emergency.
  • Ask for references. An ethical contractor should be eager to provide them.
  • Dismiss any contractor who claims to be backed by FEMA, as they do not endorse contractors.
  • Look for the business name and phone number on the vehicle of anyone who approaches you about work
  • Ask to see the contractor’s driver’s license. Record their license number and the license plate number of their vehicle
  • Never let a contractor tell you not to contact your insurance company.
  • Never pay the entire contract amount before any work is done.

Beaufort County residents who believe they have been targeted by scammers should contact their local police department or call the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office at 252-946-7111.