Action 9 Exposes Contractor Taking Thousands From Many Homeowners

Florida Politics

Originally published by WFTV ABC   |   View Story

Action 9 has learned that a state licensed contractor cashed customers' insurance checks but never installed their new roofs.

It's happened to at least a dozen people.

“It's always just one broken promise or lie after another from them,” said customer Brian McLarnon.

The piles of shingles on his roof were left by Nationwide Catastrophe Service a year ago. The contractor abandoned the job after cashing his $15,000 insurance check.

“This was a certified roofer licensed by the state who basically took my money and ran,” he said.

McLarnon says Nationwide is not answering his calls.

“These people have taken $15,000 from me, and God knows how many other people," he said.

Action 9 first exposed Nationwide Catastrophe Service last September after it collected a woman's $8,000 insurance claim and never installed a new roof.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich found another dozen homeowners who said they were scammed by the business, including Veronica Hollis.

A year ago Nationwide cashed her $6,000 insurance check but never replaced the roof.

All the victims Action 9 contacted signed an assignment of benefits, where a contractor takes over the insurance claim. Ulrich said this can be a costly mistake. The contractor takes over negotiations and can collect payment before the work is done, or even started.

“I've been duped,” said Hollis.

Nationwide Catastrophe Service said it has reorganized and is attempting to finish the jobs or send refunds.

Company owner Tim Cox entered pretrial diversion after he was charged with workman's comp fraud. But customers claim their complaints to state regulators about tens of thousands of dollars in missing insurance money have hit a dead end.

A company spokesman admitted big mistakes were made.

The Department of Financial Services told Ulrich it isaware of serious problems, but cannot discuss its case.

Experts advise homeowners to avoid assignment of benefits contracts, which are high risk and, if something goes wrong, leaves the homeowner has no control.