Illegal Paving Contractor Has an Arizona Connection
LAKE COUNTY — An unlicensed paving contractor whose illegal activities have fostered investigations by both the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and the Arizona Registrar of Contractor (ROC), has been linked to similar acts in other states, as well. An arrest warrant has been issued in Lake County, California, for Ed McDonald, who is suspected of being a "Traveler." He is charged with committing fraud, contracting without a license, and illegally using another contractor's license. McDonald's business, Asphalt Repair Services, is an illegal contracting operation that is suspected of perpetrating scams in California, Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.
An associate of McDonald's was recently held in Arizona on a felony theft warrant as a fugitive from Kansas for defrauding an elderly homeowner of more than $42,000. The associate, Steven Joseph Lotzer, admitted that he worked with McDonald along with Edward J. Jennings, Edward Ted McDonald, Pat Jennings, John Jennings, and Ted Jennings.
The CSLB and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors warns homeowners to beware of unlicensed contractors who solicit door-to-door and to contact either state agency if they believe they have been victimized by Asphalt Repair Services. In Northern California, call (916) 255-2924, and in Southern California, call (562) 466-6017.
In May 2003, McDonald contracted to clean and seal the asphalt driveway of a Lake County homeowner. Within a half-hour of beginning work, it started to rain, but McDonald continued, which resulted in a job of little or no value. He is being investigated in Siskiyou County and Sacramento County for similar activities.
In Arizona, Lotzer acknowledged that he and his associates worked landscaping and painting scams, but primarily pulled driveway sealant jobs, using watered-down materials. Their victims are mostly elderly homeowners throughout the western United States.
Travelers generally are organized groups of home repair contractors-often related and using similar names-who move from town to town scamming consumers. A common scenario is that a Traveler knocks on a homeowner's door, claims to have roofing, painting or paving materials left over from jobs just completed in the neighborhood, and offers to repair or seal the roof or driveway or paint the house at a reduced price. The Traveler performs substandard, useless, or sometimes destructive work. Once the homeowner realizes little or no work has been done and that he has been scammed, the Traveler is gone and difficult to find.
The CSLB and the Arizona Registrar of Contractors urge consumers to be aware of Travelers and to watch for these "red flags":
- Door-to-door solicitations from individuals related by family or similar names
- An offer to do paving, roofing or painting repairs
- An offer to apply "sealers" to asphalt, roofs, walls, or concrete
- A claim they have left-over materials at a cheap price
- A claim that they have performed work at the residence in the past
- High pressure or scare tactics
- The use of invertible names such as mixing Charles Johnston Stewart and Charles Stewart Johnston
- A reluctance to give an up-front price or a written contract in advance of work being performed
- A demand for cash
- Brand new vehicles, truck-mounted spray machines, and out-of-state license plates
- Toll-free telephone numbers instead of local numbers
- Post office boxes, private mailboxes, and suites instead of local business addresses.
Any California contractor can be checked on-line at www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB. To check an Arizona contractor, visit http://www.azroc.gov/forms/contractorsearch.html or call 602-542-1525 or toll-free statewide outside of Maricopa County at 1-888-271-9286.
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 280,000 contractors in California and investigates 25,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
The State of Arizona Registrar of Contractors regulates approximately 50,000 construction contractors by providing a licensing and regulatory system for residential and commercial contractors designed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Last year, the agency handled more than 11,000 unlicensed contracting and workmanship complaints.
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