CHICAGO (CN) - State prosecutors say "storm-chasing" roofing companies took homeowners and insurers for tens of thousands of dollars for repairs they did poorly, if they bothered to show up at all. Lead defendant Godfather Construction even set up a website to warn people of the very scam it was pulling, the state says.
Godfather would "quickly start up and wind down" its operations, cashing insurance checks and waltzing, leaving customers and unpaid subcontractors behind, the state attorney for Cook County says.
Defendants Tom Kamin and Steve Anderson, both of Flower Mound, Texas launched Godfather, an alleged "insurance claims specialist," the day after severe hailstorms hit Northwest Chicago suburbs, according to the complaint. They hired defendant Freddie Miles, of Indiana, as their lead salesman, and also worked with Illinois roofing contractor Peter Svaras, the complaint states.
Prosecutors say the defendants used Svaras' roofing license "as a foil" to get suppliers and subcontractors to work with them. But when workers were involved at all, Godfather used unlicensed workers and not the services of Svaras, prosecutors say.
Godfather allegedly took homeowners' insurance money and made lousy repair - if they bothers to show up at all. Godfather even set up a website to warned homeowners about other businesses that did what it was doing itself, prosecutors say.
"Being desperate leaves you open to being preyed upon by 'drifter contractors' who do not meet the standards of local state regulations," it said on its website.
Anderson and Kamin also used the dbas Portrait Roof Tech and Portrait Roofing & Construction, both of which are named as defendants.
Operating as Portrait Roofing & Construction, the men took a $65,000 insurance check from one woman, "and subsequently failed to perform any work and failed to refund the (woman's) insurance monies," the state says.
"On another occasion, defendants Anderson and Miles collected $90,000 from Moon Caye Condominium Association, performed incomplete and/or shoddy work, and failed to reimburse the Association's homeowners in any manner. Demand letters sent to defendant Portrait Roofing's false business address were returned 'Undeliverable' and consumers' requests to cancel the contract and obtain refunds went unanswered."
The complaint adds: "As part of their plan or scheme to defraud others, defendants Kamin, Anderson, and Miles utilized defendant Godfather Construction's Texas, Missouri, and Illinois articles of incorporation to open multiple corporate checking accounts in each of these states under various names. This enabled the defendants to easily deposit and cash checks when doing business in these states, and quickly start up and wind down their business operations by transferring monies to accounts held in other state."
Illinois seeks an injunction and damages for consumer fraud and deceptive business practices.