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Miss. AG Web site will track fraudulent contractors

Mississippi has a new tool to help residents avoid contractors who may take their money and run, especially families still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.

Attorney General Jim Hood said his office’s Web site, www.agjimhood.com, now provides links that lists contractors arrested for home repair fraud. The list includes the name of the person arrested, the name of the company they were “doing business as” and a brief status report on the case.

Hood said the idea for the site came while he was talking with a radio program caller who “made me realize there was a need for a quick reference guide in this area. The information we have on the list is public record and people are entitled to it.”

Hood said one name recently was added to the list.

He said Albert Watson Tate Jr., 52, was arrested last month in Pontotoc by local and state authorities and returned to Harrison County to face a felony embezzlement charge.

Tate, of Pontotoc, was accused of taking money from a Biloxi resident to make repairs to a Katrina damaged home, spending the money but never providing proof the money was spent properly. Hood said that at the time of Tate’s arrest, the contractor was on probation for a 2007 home repair fraud conviction in Lee County.

Tate’s arrest brings to 80 the number of contractors arrested by the attorney general’s office for home repair fraud, Hood said.