Code Official Alert

Warnings Issued about Phony Building Re-Inspection Letters

[Source: | April 2, 2008]

  • On the heels of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region, government and code officials warned homeowners about a likely wave of contractor scams.
  • In Powhatan, Virginia, local law enforcement officials warned residents to bar individuals claiming to be building inspectors from entering residences to take measurements, in a scam where money and other valuable possessions were being stolen.
  • Homeowners in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, many of whom are senior citizens, received phone calls from people claiming to be building inspectors and asking permission to inspect their basements for signs of water damage.

Now, in Modesto, California, city officials are warning residents about a suspicious letter mailed on re-created letterhead from the city's Building Inspection Division.

The letter falsely claims that construction permits have not been completed for residents' homes and that a building department representative must re-inspect contractor's work on their homes for a fee. The $350 fee must be paid prior to a visual test inspection involving checking base flooring, opening sheetrock and pulling baseboards. The phony letter is signed "Matthew Lape." The City says there is no Matthew Lape in its employment and the letter was not created nor sent by the City of Modesto's Community and Economic Department, which houses the Building Inspection Division.

Unfortunately, scams such as these usually show up in multiple cities. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you. With Building Safety Week approaching in May, this is an excellent opportunity to touch base with community residents.

What You and Your Department Can Do:

  • Urge anyone with questions about the validity of a construction permit letter they may have received to contact their local building department.
  • Advise residents that no county building inspectors, assessors, etc., would enter a residence nor would they have a need to, with the exception of a building under construction. Residents should not allow unknown persons into their home for inspection purposes.
  • Urge residents against providing personal information in unsolicited sales activity related to home repair or construction. Building officials and inspectors do not make such unsolicited telephone calls and it is likely these calls are a fraudulent home repair scam.
  • Advise residents to report suspicious phone calls related to home repair or construction to both their local building department and law enforcement agency.

[Original Release:]

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