(ANGIE'S LIST) - Replacing a roof is a big job and a major investment, so when a restoration company told a homeowner it could replace his hail-damaged roof at no cost to him, it seemed like a perfect solution.
"He drew up an estimate and said that they could pay the deductible of 1,500 dollars, so we wouldn't have to worry about that and it shouldn't cost us anything," homeowner Eric Park said. "Great, we'll get a new roof."
Eric didn't know that most states forbid contractors from paying a homeowner's deductible. He thought everything was "above board."
"Just from the way they were talking, I had no reason to not believe they're on the up-and-up. They know what they're doing, they know the business," Park said.
In fact, their smooth sales pitch was actually a scam.
"These scam artist contractors will say Hey, all we need is we need that first check. You give that to us, we'll get you scheduled to go, and then in the worst cases they just disappear," Roofing professional Judd Hagg said.
That's exactly what happened.
Eric signed over his $4,800 insurance check and every time he called to get a start date, Green Frog Restoration had a reason to delay. He
eventually had to take out a $10,000 loan and hire another company to do the work.
"Unfortunately, there might be scammers that come into town after a storm, so be sure that you're checking the company you're using – that they have
a valid license, they have insurance so that you know that you're working with a reputable company," Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks said.
"We really implore customers to follow-up on those referrals. Don't just take 'em at face value. Call the people, talk to them. Make sure the company you're dealing with is a good company," Hagg said.
Angie says if a contractor gives you a 1-800 number or out-of-state business address, that's a red flag.
Also, you shouldn't feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot, even if they say they need your signature to get on your roof to provide an estimate.
As for Green Frog Restoration, its owners have been ordered to pay back more than $250,000 in Ohio and still face multiple lawsuits and criminal charges throughout the Midwest.