Skip to Content

Tornado Scammer’s Work Showing One Year Later

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tornado Scammer’s Work Showing One Year Later

As the one year anniversary of the March tornado approaches, local lawyers stand ready to help residents who were taken advantage of.

Marla Williams is the Managing Attorney for the Cookeville’s Legal Aid Society office. Williams said they have attorneys to help with civil cases against scammers.

“Some of that work would certainly be coming to light and promises to do certain work that has not been fulfilled,” Williams said. “Unfortunately, some individuals pay contractors, licensed or not, to do work.”

Williams said anyone who feels they were scammed for repair work during the tornado should collect any agreements or correspondence they have in writing.

“They unfortunately run off with the money and don’t perform the services they agree to do,” Williams said. “I would say now is the time when we will start hearing, we’ve heard about some of these issues already but now is the time. Of course, it takes a while to get a contractor to do any work and so now would be the time that we would start to hear about those problems.”

Williams said there are best practices for anyone damaged by the ice storm or weather moving forward. Among them: checking if a contractor is licensed, keeping records of communication and not paying for repairs with cash.

“Always check out the contractor before signing anything or handing over any money,” Williams said. “That can be checking with the Better Business Bureau, checking with the state to see if the person is licensed. Sometimes we’ve had instances where a contractor says that they are licensed, when they are in fact not. Furthermore, ask that person for names of individuals, homeowners who they have done work for and check out those references.”

Williams said the main question that comes to the Legal Aid Society is simply, what to do once someone has been scammed. She said the more complicated questions come from people who live in a home, they might not own.

“Individuals who may live in a family home, where a grandparent has owned the home and a child or grandchild moves in,” Williams said. “Say the home was damaged by the tornado or ice storm. They don’t have legal title to the property although they may be living there and be responsible for all the home ownership taxes.”

She said this applies to recovery aid, as well.

“Say for instance, FEMA or some other agency that might give that individual aid if they owned the home may not find that person to be eligible for that assistance if they do not own the home,” Williams said. “So, those are issues that we can and have already been asked to look into.”

The Cookeville office of the Legal Aid Society covers 10 counties in the Upper Cumberland. The Legal Aid Society will be holding three disaster relief clinics.

Those dates are March 13, March 30 and April 13. The best way to contact the Cookeville office for more information is by calling 931-528-7436.


The post Tornado Scammer’s Work Showing One Year Later appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.