Independence man arrested for home improvement fraud, deputies offer tips to avoid scams
HAMMOND, LA – Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Robert Allen Baham, 37, of Independence, on two outstanding warrants for home improvement fraud and contracting without a license.
On February 24, 2014, the sheriff’s office was contacted by a Hammond resident who reported that she entered into a contact with Baham to complete home improvement work on her Natchez Street residence. The contract stated that Baham would begin the improvement project in July of 2013, with an expected completion date if October 2013.
The homeowner stated that she gave Baham $22,000.00 in July to begin the project. To date, the project has yet to be completed, and she has not been able to find Baham.
The complaint stated that in early August, she began to see Baham less and less, until finally not at all. Upon further investigation, lead Detective John Suter learned that Baham already had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for the same crime.
On June 23, 2014, at approximately 8:00 p.m., deputies located Baham in the Independence area and placed him in custody.
Sheriff Edwards urges homeowners to be cautious when hiring contractors. “Consumers should ask contractors for references and seek referrals from friends and neighbors.” Edwards said. “Additionally, consider hiring local companies and ask to see contractors’ state-issued registration cards.”
Sheriff Edwards offers the following tips when hiring a contractor:
Do Your Research
- Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve used a contractor
- If you can, take a look at the work done and ask about their experience.
- Look at sites you trust that post ratings and reviews
- Do people seem to have similar experiences, good or bad? You also can check out a contractor’s online reputation by searching for the company’s name with words like “scam,” “rip-off,” or “complaint.”
- Find out how long they’ve been in business
- Look for an established company whose record and reputation you can check out.
- Check for qualifications, like licensing
- Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area.
Before You Hire a Contractor
- Get Estimates
- Once you’ve narrowed your options, get written estimates from several firms. Don’t automatically choose the lowest bidder. Ask for an explanation to see if there’s a reason for the difference in price.