ST MARYS, Ga. – Roofing scams are happening to more and more people in Northeast Florida and South Georgia, and they're causing insurance rates to go up.
News4Jax learned a man was arrested in Ohio on suspicion of posing as a legitimate roofer and taking money from homeowners in Northeast Florida.
Police said Goran Popovic agreed to perform roofing work but then never finished the jobs.
Other roof scams involve would-be workers causing damage to a roof with a nickel or a hammer. They can take a nickel, place it on a roof tile, step on it and dig in with their heels. The mark that's left looks like hail damage. Or the scammers take a hammer and just hit the tiles, sometimes even ripping a shingle.
But not every scam is that obvious.
Despite a “No Solicitation” sign on his window, homeowner Christian Arce said he got scammed by a roofing company that he called after workers left a card on his door.
“I definitely didn't know better, because it's my first home, and it was the first time I ever had a roofing job done. I didn't know what was going on,” Arce said. “The guy came to me. I felt happy, because the insurance company was saying, 'All you got to pay is this little bit, compared to everything,' so I thought that was good.”
Standing outside of his St. Marys, Georgia, home, Arce pointed out a small area of what he thinks was the only damage done to his roof last May. But the entire roof has been replaced.
Tom Stephens, with the Northeast Florida Better Business Bureau, said he’s seeing more and more cases of what happened to Arce.
“You want to be a little careful of the ones who approach you, want to go through the neighborhood and leave the leaflets or the door hangers or come up and say, 'You had hail damage to your roof,' and they will work with your insurance company to fix it,” Stephens said. “That's where you get into an area that can be a little dangerous.”
The BBB said part of the scam is making it seem like homeowners are getting a good deal, showing them a quote that has been doctored to include an insurance deductible.
“The danger of that is that you may get inferior quality,” Stephens said. “They're getting insurance work, and they're doing the work a lot more cheaply than another contractor would do.”
Only 25 percent of Arce's roof needed to be replaced. His insurance company was charged $6,000 for a job he was quoted would only take a week but ended up lasting 2½ months. Arce said the roofer got the first payment from the insurance company and then strung him along.
“I learned to definitely do more research next time somebody comes by and just drops a card in your door,” Arce said. “I mean, there’s definitely more companies, probably a couple more companies, that I could have gone through that were in this area.”
The Better Business Bureau said that when doing that research for those new shingles or new tile, consumers should get six or seven estimates and go with one of the ones in the middle.
The BBB is a good resource to see if a roofing company is in good standings.
And there are several other things homeowners can do to make sure they're not getting scammed:
- Question when a roofer offers a rebate or says you won’t have to pay a deductible.
- Try to get referrals from people you know who have had roofing done.
- Get the estimate in writing and never pay upfront. Wait until the job is done.
A legitimate roofing company is going to be able to have the resources to put the materials out there, get the work done and then ask for your money.
If they’re asking you for money up front to pay for materials, then you’re dealing with someone who is not an established roofing company.