Officials say 8 arrested on home repair fraud charges

Published 10:27 pm Saturday, July 7, 2007

Eight people have been arrested on charges of cheating Mississippi Gulf Coast homeowners who sought help in repairing damage left by Hurricane Katrina, state Attorney General Jim Hood said Friday.

Hood said “Operation Hammer Strike” began two weeks ago and involved his office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force.

“Together, we are sending a clear signal that home repair fraud will not be tolerated,” Hood said in a news release. “Our people have already lost enough to Katrina.”

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Hood said 237 cases of alleged home repair fraud are under investigation.

“Home repair fraud is one of those rare cases which does not have a statute of limitations. That means that crooked contractors can’t just sit back and hope these complaints go away,” the attorney general said.

Five of those arrested during the past week were Mississippi coast residents and the others were from Texas, Alabama and Oklahoma. Hood’s office said two were being held in jails in other states.

Nehemiah Flowers Jr., U.S. marshal for south Mississippi, said in the statement that his agency would “continue to employ our nationwide network of fugitive task forces to assist the attorney general and ensure that no criminal escapes justice.”