Contractors Suspected of Elder Abuse Face Felony Charges
SUN CITY — A Contractors State License Board (CSLB) investigation prompted the Riverside County District Attorney's Office to file felony charges against two contractors who are suspected of defrauding elderly Riverside homeowners. CSLB's investigation began with a complaint against William Stewart Reid, owner of Reid Painting, and son Alex Williamson Reid, who allegedly solicited an 85-year-old woman to contract for a roof and house coating job. The woman, who is legally blind and lives alone, paid the contractors $6,000. A CSLB industry expert reports that the coating appears to be a solvent worth between $200-$300 and will wash off with the first good rain. There are arrest warrants for William and Alex Reid.
The CSLB warns elderly homeowners to be wary of door-to-door solicitors who create a sense of urgency and use scare tactics to pressure them into agreeing to home improvement work. To arm senior citizens with the tools to combat unscrupulous contracting practices, the CSLB is sponsoring a series of Senior Scam Stopper Seminars throughout the state. The first event will be held at 10 a.m. on June 28 at the Kay Ceniceros Senior Center in Sun City. The free seminars will feature presentations by CSLB investigators, local law enforcement, the Bureau of Automotive Repair, and AARP. Free consumer protection information will be available.
The CSLB complaint against Reid alleges that the elderly victim was a dependent adult who remembers being solicited on numerous occasions for home improvement work, but she has no specific recollection of contracting with Reid or paying him any money.
"Sadly, this case illustrates how some elderly homeowners are targeted by dishonest contractors who are out to take advantage of vulnerable consumers. Before hiring or paying a contractor, I urge all homeowners to take their time before making a decision and to check with the CSLB for information," said Steve Sands, Registrar of the Contractors State License Board.
Senior citizens should follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors and ask to see the pocket license
- Check the contractor's license on the CSLB's web site at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB
- Be wary of door-to-door solicitations
- Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision about hiring a contractor
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract
- Ask a friend or relative to review the contract before signing
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash and don't let payments get ahead of the work
- Contact the CSLB if you have a complaint against a contractor
The Contractors State License Board operates under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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