Our newspaper tries to protect our readers against various frauds committed against Canadians either investing in properties in Florida or having renovation work done on their condominium or home. Our legal column in this issue of the paper, relates to renovation work being performed by unlicensed contractors and the Florida requirements on using licensed contractors.
This editorial refers to various recent scams by unlicensed contractors and frauds committed on Canadian investors that have partnered with individuals in Florida in the purchase of Florida properties for resale or rental.
Canadians do not know the extent of the various frauds being committed in southeast Florida and therefore often do not make the proper background checks on the individuals they partner with.
A recent case involved a fraud upon a Canadian investor when he discovered that his 50% interest in an investment property had been conveyed away by an unknown person forging his name on a quit claim deed. His partner in the ownership of the property did not inform him of this. Another fraud involved an unlicensed contractor forging the owner signature on the building permit application. Both of the forged signatures appear to have been signed before a Florida Notary Public.
They did not realize that this area of Florida is the fraud capital of the United States. This involves frauds relating to medical and prescription services, medical clinics, for profit colleges, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, unlicensed contractors, investment services, insurance, truck thefts, construction and renovation, and many other economic crimes. The percentage of these economic type crimes solved are so low that there is no incentive for these criminals to stop their activities.
This newspaper has refused or canceled advertisements from a few businesses when we have discovered dishonest conduct on their part towards the public. This has occurred in both the construction trade and rental market where the individuals involved either did not perform fully the services they were paid for or the services were never performed and were fraudulent.
When an individual uses the construction license of another individual we would recommend that you get written and signed conformation from the licensed contractor that he is your contractor before letting anyone start the work. If you suffer losses caused by an unlicensed contractor you cannot recover anything from the State of Florida but if that loss was caused by a licensed contractor you could recover from $25,000 to $ 50,000 in losses if you meet the requirements set forth in the law.
Contractors who mislead or defraud their clients should be reported to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-487-1395, or go to www.myfloridalicense.com.
To report unlicensed contractor activity, or check a license, go to www.myflorida.com