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FEMA warns of fraudsters; man booked with fraud for third time

Ronald Dugas.jpg
Posted at 9:44 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 10:44:44-04

As federal and state officials warn hurricane survivors to guard against fraudulent contractors to repair their homes, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a Lake Charles man for the third time and booked him with residential contractor fraud.

Ronald Dugas Jr., 44, was booked the first week of April and again a week ago on similar charges. Deputies booked him again this week with residential contractor fraud $5,000 - $25,000; residential contractor fraud no license; and exploitation of the infirmed. He was still in jail on the other charges at the time, deputies say.

In this case, deputies allege: The victim paid Dugas more than $9,000 to complete a construction project at his residence. Dugas had cashed the check given to him by the victim and delivered a small portion of the materials to the home. After several months passed without any work being completed, Dugas arrived at the home and completed a few hours of work. Dugas left and did not return to complete the job. Dugas also failed to deliver all the materials, which were previously paid for.

If you believe you have been a victim of contractor fraud or are unsure whether an actual crime has been committed call the Contractor Fraud Response Team at 437-3405.

CPSO Detective Chris Duhon is the lead investigator on this case.

Contractor fraud is unfortunately common after a disaster.

FEMA and the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) caution disaster survivors to be aware of post-disaster fraud and scams. Attempts to scam residents can be made over the phone, by mail or email, through the internet or in person. It is important to remain alert. Con artists are creative and resourceful. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it should be questioned, they say.

Demand for contractors to repair or replace damaged homes in Louisiana is high. Fake or unlicensed contractors may try to take advantage of the situation to scam disaster survivors. As insurance settlements, grants and loans put homeowners in a position to pay for work on their homes, survivors need to be sure the people they hire are authorized to do the work, will complete it and will do a good job.

It is important to know that a Louisiana contractor license is required to work in Louisiana. Out-of-town scam artists may be the first to arrive at your front door after a disaster. Do your research. To find out if a potential contractor is licensed to work in Louisiana, contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors [u7061146.ct.sendgrid.net] or call them at (225) 765-2301 or use Text-To-Verify at (855) 999-7896. See more at Online Contractor Search - LSLBC (louisiana.gov) [u7061146.ct.sendgrid.net]. FEMA does not license or certify contractors.

Be Aware of These Contractor Scams and Warning Signs

  • Door-To -Door Solicitations
  • High Pressure Sales or Scare Tactics
  • Demand for Cash, Unusually Large Down Payments or Advanced Full Payment
  • Special Deals or Extremely Low Bids
  • Verbal Agreements, No Written Contract
  • Out of State, No Permanent Place of Business, No Insurance
  • Inadequate References

FEMA says that being aware of these important clues can save you from substantial financial and emotional loss. Report suspicious activity of this kind to your local police department, the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-223-0814, or the Louisiana Attorney General's Consumer Dispute line at 800-351-4889.

You can also call local law enforcement to report potential contractor fraud.