Tuesday , May 28 2024

Eyewitness News Investigates – Drought Scam: Fraudlent Contractors Targeting ‘Drought-Friendly’ Lawns

Eyewitness News Investigates a scam alert from the Better Business Bureau.  It’s a warning to consumers about fake contractors victimizing people as they try to conserve water – with "waterless" lawns.  If you are planning to purchase synthetic lawn or to hire lawn painting service, officials say you should do your homework to avoid being scammed.

Across the valley, folks are swapping real for fake.  A record breaking drought changing landscapes at record speeds.  For Ken Hendrix, installing synthetic lawn just made sense.

"The other options are let it all die and look nasty or get spray cans and pay it green," says Hendrix.

Lawn painting and artificial grass, according to consumer advocates, is now attracting scammers ready to make a quick buck.

Cindy Dudley with Fresno Better Business Bureau says, "You should never give them more than 10 percent or $ 1,000 dollars, whichever is less, up front."

The Better Business Bureau sent an alert to consumers warning about a flood of pop up businesses taking advantage of drought conditions.  Although no victims have been found in the Central Valley, so far eight unlicensed people across the state have been caught performing work, posing as contractors.

Ben Bergquam with the Synthetic Lawn Warehouse says scam artists are ready to pounce, but says consumers can protect themselves.

"You should be able to ask them very specific questions about the base, about the grass, about the drainage and they should be able to give the specific answers.  If they can’t you should probably talk to somebody else," says Bergquam.

Bergquam also says to check on warranty information.  He says his business covers synthetic grass for 15 years.  BBB officials remind that any work over $ 500 requires a contractor to be licensed by the state.  They say don’t be afraid to ask questions and get as much information as you can, including a license number and written estimates.

Berquam says if anyone has a question about synthetic lawn installation that he is happy to help.  You can call Synthetic Lawn Warehouse at 800.730.2675.

You can also check on a contractor’s license by clicking on this link – www.cslb.ca.gov.

If you have an investigative tip, please call investigative reporter Angela Greenwood at (559) 706-0238.

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