Several fence contractors were arrested for fraud in the Jacksonville, Florida area, according to an article on Firstcoasnews.com. The allegations are that the contractors took money from the victims but failed to perform the requested work.
When the state prosecutes contractors for fraud, these cases are not as clear as they may seem to the police and the prosecutor. When a contractor accepts money to do a job and never returns, that is one thing. However, because of the way the contracting business works, there are often unavoidable delays and other issues that can prevent a contractor from beginning work when he/she originally planned. Other times, a contractor performs the work, but the client is not satisfied or the client and the contractor had different ideas as to what work was to be done and how. The client may go to the police and claim fraud, but these kinds of cases are more appropriately left to the civil courts. Sometimes, there is a dispute over money that also is not criminal. For instance, the job may cost more than the contractor initially estimated or the client does not pay the installments in time. This may result in a delay in the job. That does not mean a crime has been committed, but rather a difference of opinion that should be resolved outside of the criminal courts.
We have seen many criminal prosecutions of contractors. Some are warranted based on clear fraud committed by the contractors. But other times, there is an honest dispute between contractor and client that should be resolved informally or by a civil lawsuit.