A West Palm Beach flooring contractor is facing fraud charges after taking a more than $7,000 deposit from a resident and then refusing to either do the work or refund the money. This is the second such case in the past month dealing with contractors who take deposits for work and then simply don’t do the work. Both are facing significant charges for their business conduct.
In this case, the victim of the fraud would have saved themselves a considerable amount of money had they checked online reviews. The flooring company was accused by a customer of taking $12,000 and then not doing any of the work. In the case of the other victim, the contractor never secured a building permit prior to taking the job. It would appear, based on this evidence, that the contractor had no intention of doing the work he agreed to do for the money he received. If that’s the case, then the contractor is guilty of fraud. However, the contractor is not being charged with fraud. He’s being charged with larceny. So, in this article, we’ll discuss why the prosecution opted for larceny charges over fraud charges.
Larceny versus fraud
Generally speaking, fraud requires an active conspiracy. Larceny is more spontaneous. In this case, larceny charges have been filed against the defendant, but the PBSO is reaching out to other residents who may have been robbed by the same company. If they can put together two or more instances of larceny, then they can build a fraud case against the defendant. Right now, however, the prosecution does not have enough to prove fraud because they can’t show that an active conspiracy was behind the theft.
The defendant can claim that he and the customer had a falling out. He can claim that the complainant fired him after giving the deposit and as the contract states, the deposit is non-refundable. However, when this happens more than once, you begin to see the wheels turning. The defendant is clearly making easy money. The complainants are clearly upset that they have paid money and not received work in return.
Larceny charges are considered third-degree felonies under Florida’s statutes. In this case, the amount stolen is less than $10,000, so it still triggers felony charges. In the case of fraud charges, they can multiply quickly because of all the elements of the crime. Fraud requires an active criminal conspiracy and planning. It requires active deception. It is not a crime associated with a spur-of-the-moment decision. It is a crime associated with a careful plan.
This isn’t the only contractor to be accused of taking deposits and then not carrying out the work. Other contractors who committed similar offenses have been charged with fraud. In those cases, there were more victims that came forward, but that could change now that the charges have become public.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges? Call the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.