Nailed: A fraud prevention and compliance blog

Written by Elizabeth Smith,
L&I's Assistant Director for
Fraud Prevention and
Labor Standards

Oct. 23, 2012

Unregistered contractor picks the wrong house for his pitch

Working where I do, I hear stories every day about consumers harmed or cheated by unscrupulous contractors, so I ask a lot of questions when I hire one and know the red flags of a potential scam — like unsolicited offers that are too good to be true.

Last week, I came home from work and found a business card for a paving contractor on the table beside my front door. I asked my husband where it came from, since it wasn’t from a local business, and he said that someone had come to the door offering a great deal to pave our driveway.

Here was the sales pitch:

I am doing a job tomorrow right down the street for your neighbor, Mrs. Jones. Her driveway is small, and I only need about half a load of asphalt. I have to order by the truckload, so I have more asphalt than I need for the job. If you’re interested, I can give you a really good deal on paving your driveway. I’m just trying to get rid of the extra product, really. The first one who says yes gets the deal.

Sound familiar? It did to me and it’s as classic a pitch as you’ll ever hear — we’ve mentioned this particular scam before in previous posts.

It was hard to believe how by-the-book this scam was. It was like the guy had read the “how to run an asphalt paving scam" list from the BBB.

Luckily, my husband had asked him for his business card. I looked him up and, no surprise, he was unregistered.

Though he had a Tacoma phone number on the card, his business was based in West Sacramento, California. His Washington contractor registration expired in 2009. His California contractor’s license had been revoked in 2009.

I referred the information to our Contractor Compliance staff since it’s illegal in Washington for an unregistered contractor to even advertise to perform contracting work. This contractor is likely to be receiving a citation in the mail soon.

These guys are out there. Ask questions, get a card, do your research, and remember that, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That’s where the rubber really hits the road.

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