Published On: Sun, Mar 10th, 2019

After-Irma contractor scams more prolific than reported

Contractor scam

PHILIPSBURG — A press release issued on Friday, March 8, 2019, by the PR/Communications Department of the police force (KPSM) has sparked a number of outcries in the community and on social media.

The press release in question stated that the St. Maarten Police Force has received several complaints regarding fraudulent activities from a company called Trilogy Multi Service. Based on these complaints the Fraud Department of the police has launched an official investigation in to the matter.

Complaints received by the department claimed that the owner with initials L.U. of Trilogy Multi Services presented himself as a home contractor to several persons in need of desperate home repairs after the passing of hurricane Irma in 2017. Desperate home owners paid L.U. large amounts of money hoping to begin their home repairs as soon as possible but never received any of the services that were paid for.

In an interview with StMaartenNews.com a local businessman complained that he had similarly been duped out of $8000 US Dollars by a contractor. The contractor in question was not the same home contractor referred as the owner of Trilogy Multi Services with the initials L.U.. However, the contractor he hired disappeared after he managed to collect $8000 US Dollars as a deposit and as advance to purchase materials.

The local businessman explained that his home had been damaged during the passing of hurricane Irma. After his insurance had paid out the money needed for the repairs, he hired a contractor to do the job.

“The contractor started working on the roof and never came back after I had given about $8000 dollars or so.” the local businessman explained. “He left the roof in a mess and I had to get another contractor to finish it off.”

“I had to pay the other contractor almost $5000 dollars to redo and fix their crappy work.” the local businessman complained.

When asked if he went to the police to complain about this, the local businessman said that initially the police told him they can’t do anything about it as it was a civil case and that he should get a lawyer. “I went to them a few times.” he explained. “At the time I had an address for the contractor, but they wanted me to go to the address and if he’s there call them and they will come.”

Asked if he had ever gone to the address, the local businessman immediately said no. “Because it wasn’t my job and that.would have been putting my life in danger.” he said. “That’s was like doing their job.”

The local businessman told StMaartenNews.com that he was even referred to the Prosecutor’s Office. “I spoke to a lady from there who came in my shop to buy stuff and she took some info and never got back to me.”

Seeking publicity for his plight, the local businessman even spoke to someone he knew that worked at The Daily Herald and asked if they could do a report about his case. He said “the person I spoke to said they can’t do a story mentioning any names or putting their photo in the newspapers.” It had to do with them not wanting to be liable for libel or defamation, the local businessman confirmed.

He said that at least now finally the police is giving some attention to the scams contractors are pulling and investigating these types of fraud. “Its about time, but its too late for many because we are not going to get our money back.” the local businessman lamented.

In connection with their investigations the Police Department is asking anyone who may have been victim of criminal acts by Trilogy Multi Services and its owner L.U. to contact the Detective Department at 542-2222, ext. 217, to file an official complaint at the Fraud Department of the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM). Persons can also send a private message via the Police Facebook page.

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Publisher’s Note

It should noted that already in October 2017, directly after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry COCI published a press release stating that it had taken notice of the many advertisements published by foreign Construction companies, in the local- and on social media.

COCI in the press release issued a warning to the public of St. Maarten to act with
caution when contracting a construction company. Construction companies not registered at COCI and not licensed to do business on St. Maarten, may not operate and/or offer services in St. Maarten.

“Many of these companies may also advertise vacancies to hire local workers, so those seeking employment are too urged to be cautious.” COCI also warned.

COCI advices all residents and business owners to request copies of a valid business license and a current COCI registration, to verify that the company you are engaging is legally established and permitted to do business in St. Maarten.

Know who you are doing business with, who you are contracting or who you are planning to work for.” the press release warning concluded.