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Cape Coral PD uncovers unlicensed contractors and scams in joint operation

Cape Coral law enforcement conducted a joint operation of multiple contractors and found several individuals who were doing business without legal compliance, police said.

The Financial Crimes Unit, Property Crimes Unit, and City of Cape Coral Code Compliance investigated unlicensed contractors at 4841 Manor Court in an effort to find, educate unlicensed contractors, Cape PD said.

The results of this operation are as follows:

  • Jeffrey Schaller,  was issued an OVR by code enforcement for violation of ordinance 6-14(f) – Acting as an unlicensed contractor, which holds a $1,000 dollar fine.
  • Lazaro Alfredo Fernandez, of A Plus Quality Home Services, Inc. was issued a Notice To Appear for violation of F.S.S. 489.127(1)(f) – unlicensed contracting, a 1st degree misdemeanor.
  • David Allan Rubin, of New Line Electric, Inc. was issued a Notice To Appear for violation of F.S.S. 489.127(1)(f) – unlicensed contracting, a 1st degree misdemeanor.
  • Jonah Herdoiza, of SWFL Property Services, LLC was issued an OVR by code enforcement for violation of ordinance 6-14(f) – Acting as an unlicensed contractor, which holds a $1,000 dollar fine.
  • Luke Berry, of Berry’s Handyman Service was issued a Notice To Appear for violation of F.S.S. 489.127(1)(f) – unlicensed contracting, a 1st degree misdemeanor.
  • Ismael “Izzy” Torres Pieters, was issued a Notice To Appear for violation of F.S.S. 489.127(1)(f) – unlicensed contracting, a 1st degree misdemeanor.

Any person you hire to do work, pretty much anything, requires a competency license. This is covered in Florida State Statute 489.105(3).

Cape Coral Police give the following advice about working with contractors:

What is Unlicensed Activity?

  • A serious threat to the health, safety, and welfare of Florida residents and visitors.
  • Unlicensed activity occurs when a person performs or offers to perform a job or service that requires licensure.
  • Unlicensed activity is a criminal offense and is referred to the local State Attorney.

Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Person

  • Poor Qualifications.  Unlicensed persons do not have the education, insurance, or qualification required of a licensee.
  • Poor Quality Work.  Unlicensed contractors do poor quality work or do not finish the project, leaving the homeowner on the hook to repair or finish the project.
  • Possible Criminal Background.  Unlicensed persons often have criminal backgrounds that may include fraud, theft, violent crime, sexual offenses, and substance abuse.
  • Likelihood of being the Victim of a Scam.  Unlicensed persons often disappear after taking your money
  • Limited Resources for Broken Contracts.  The only answer is an expensive, and generally futile, civil suit.
  • No Insurance and Liability for Injuries to Others:  You may end up being liable for personal or financial injuries to others.  An unlicensed contractor typically is uninsured and will have no way to pay you back for any property damage.
  • No Coverage under Homeowner’s Policy.  Most homeowner policies require that work must be done by a licensed contractor and provide no coverage for work that is not.
  • Noncompliance with Building Codes.  If your project isn’t permitted or doesn’t comply with the building code, you may have to remove or repair the work at your own expense and be subject to fines by local government.
  • Liens being Imposed on your Property.  You may be subject to liens placed on your property by subcontractors or suppliers.

What You Should Do

  • Always read a home repair contract before you sign it.
  • If you don’t agree with all the terms  ask for changes before you sign it.
  • Never sign a contract if part of your agreement is missing.
  • Check when final payment is due.
  • All MAJOR REPAIRS/REPLACEMENTS  and NEW INSTALLATIONS generally REQUIRE a permit and inspections.
  • Your only protection to  your property is to have the contractor’s  work inspected.
  • Your contractor is less likely to return to make the required corrections if he has already been PAID IN FULL.
  • Once you sign a contract, you are responsible to do all the things you agreed to do in the contract.
  • Promises that are made but not written into the contract usually cannot be enforced.
  • Most contracts do not have a “cooling-off” period that gives you an opportunity to change your mind and back out of the agreement without penalty.
  • If you do not understand what the contract says or what you are agreeing to, ask someone – a friend, relative or preferably an attorney – to review it for you before you sign.
  • Always hire licensed/bonded/insured contractors.
  • Call the City, State or County to verify that the contractor has a valid license.
  • It is usually better to hire a contractor referred by someone you know and whose work you can see for yourself.
  • If this isn’t possible, ask for references and check them out.

HOMEOWNERS ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO HOME REPAIR FRAUD AFTER A NATURAL DISASTER, SUCH AS A HURRICANE, FLOOD OR TORNADO.

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