Be on guard for building scammers

This week, Anthony Combs changed his mind, and removed his request to be released early from prison after being faced with several of the victims of his construction scam. Combs bilked 34 victims on both sides of the river out of more than $200,000, under the guise of his business AMC Remodeling.

What may have lulled some of them into a false sense of security was the fact Combs’s company had done reputable work in the area.

“He put on eight to 10 house roofs around me,” said James Cline, 72, of Reno. “I was told he did a good job.”

But the sad truth is a potential scammer cannot be identified by reputation alone.

Residents considering having work done by a contractor should be on their guard — do not make assumptions. And watch for red flags. If the contractor does not have a license or understand the permitting procedure for work, it should be a non-starter. An extremely low bid could be another problem; as could the offering of “special” deals or sale prices.

If a contractor asks for an unusually large deposit — or even the full cost — up front, it should set off alarm bells, as should the lack of a brick and mortar address for the business. If the person does not have references, does not have proper insurance, or says a contract is not necessary for the job, it is likely also a sign a customer should be concerned.

If a contractor insists on cash, particularly up front, it is probably time to keep looking for someone else to do the job.

It is a shame to have to be so careful, but those still suffering the financial consequences of having trusted Combs would likely agree, it is worth the extra time and trouble.