A Florida man working as an unlicensed contractor faked his own death — just to avoid a lawsuit.
The saga started when a pair of Pennsylvania snowbirds decided that they wanted to make Florida their permanent home. They bought a house in a closed community that needed a few repairs before they could move in, so they did what most people do: They asked their neighbors to recommend someone.
The recommended contractor had done quality work for some of their neighbors and he seemed legitimate. He advertised himself as licensed, and it never occurred to the homeowners that he might be lying. They signed a contract and headed back north, expecting to transition to their new home in 8 months — well after the work should have been finished.
He invoiced them for the work he’d supposedly done, but the homeowners came down for an inspection and found things were moving along far slower than expected. He promised to get back on track, but demands for money kept rolling in until they had paid him a total of $13,000 for the work.
When the homeowners finally arrived, the found the house unlivable. The work was clearly done in a haphazard fashion and needed to be fixed. They tried to message their contractor and got a short text message back from the contractor’s “daughter,” saying that her father had been killed the week before in a car accident.
While they moved into a rental and hired another contractor to redo the botched work, something didn’t smell right about the whole thing. They found out from their new contractor that the previous contractor had never been licensed, hadn’t obtained proper permits, hadn’t done the work up to code and hadn’t finished much of the work he’d claimed he’d done.
Something didn’t smell right, so the husband of the Pennsylvania couple began staking out the house of their former contractor until one day he suddenly saw a supposedly dead man come walking out the door, hop in a car and drive away.
Now that the contractor has reemerged among the living, he’s facing a lawsuit, but this sort of fraud is unfortunately common in the construction industry — although usually unlicensed contractors won’t go so far as to fake their own death to try to avoid a lawsuit.
An experienced lawyers can provide assistance if you need help dealing with a construction dispute.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners,” Mark Puente, Times Staff Writer, June 23, 2017