Monday, March 8, 2010

Halloran calls for investigation into bogus building complaints

From the Times Ledger:

The city Department of Buildings is compiling documents and records to hand over to the Queens district attorney’s office in hopes of building a criminal case against two city construction companies that are suspected of reporting more than 1,000 Queens homeowners in recent months for building code violations to generate more business, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said.

As early as September, the companies have used the 311 call system to lodge hundreds of anonymous, unfounded complaints alleging that entire blocks of homes across the borough have been renting out their basements or performing work without a permit, according to Halloran.

After making the complaints, the companies blanket the neighborhoods with letters advertising their services, which include improving homes in order to avoid DOB fines, the councilman said.

Logs of 311 phone calls obtained by the DOB indicate that at least two-thirds of such complaints made in the past several months originated with either Ticket Busters Inc. of Flushing or Airitan Management Inc. of Brooklyn, said Halloran.

Representatives of both companies denied making the 311 complaints.

“We don’t report people, that’s not our job,” said Ronnie Tan, an auditor at Airitan, citing “company privacy” when asked how it determines where to send letters.

The DOB did not respond to numerous e-mails and phone calls requesting comment, although in December a spokesman said the agency was investigating the complaints.


Joe said...

This is the work of Scottish and Romani home improvement Gypsies who work the area from now till Memorial day.

The cops need to look in Ridgewood. Look for Pickup trucks with caps, square windows with curtains, out of state plates, chimney sweep calls.
There #1 target is old people

Anonymous said...

These dumb new cops and Halloran need to wake up these are not local contractors doing this. They are looking for the wrong animals

Every dam spring 1000 of these con men pull out of there mustering grounds in south and fan out across the country to ply their scams.
Bogus driveway pavers, painters, roofers chimney sweepers. Some even bring their wives to work elderly people asking to use the bathroom, glass of water then rob you

Relentless con artists moving around running home-improvement swindles.
Joe Livingston, an investigator with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division who is an expert on Traveler scams, estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the Murphy Village Travelers are thieves, or "yonks," as Travelers label the wayward among them.
Their impact is felt widely along their seasonal circuits. Livingston calls it "nontraditional organized crime," and says tracking the phenomenon is a nightmare because of their shared names and nicknames.
Livingston first encountered a Traveler scam in 1984, in Rhea County, Tenn. Workmen completed a small construction job for an elderly man, who went inside the house to get money to pay them. They saw where he kept the cash, Livingston said, and returned later and stole it.
Some scams are inventive. Several Travelers were arrested a few years ago over a scam in which a Traveler wore a white lab coat and a stethoscope and went door to door in rural South Carolina, telling old folks he was there to examine them for an increase in their Social Security benefits. During the "exam," other Travelers searched the house for cash.
"They basically would go door to door seeking home improvement work, saying, 'Hey, I was working down the street and noticed your chimney needs some work and I'd be willing to do it for this wonderful price,'" says Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau in Charlotte and former president of the BBB of Northeastern Indiana. Unsuspecting homeowners would agree and let them up on the roof. "Then they'd come down and say, 'Hey, this is going to take more than I thought. I need some more supplies.
We're going to need a deposit.' And then they're gone.

Anonymous said...

You put a dumb system in place and then are shocked when its abused. Only in NY

stinky said...

I'll bet that these are not bogus calls and the city should investigate if the DOB has followed up with each house to determine if the owners have illegally rented or converted their home contrary to the CO.

As far as scams are concerns, there are valid reason to view these calls being placed in order to frighten and scam innocent homeowners targeted. Both angles should be persued.

primadonna said...

You go Dan!!!

Anonymous said...

I can tell you all first hand - they are NOT renting.

What Whitestone DOES have are kitchens and/or bathrooms in basements. They were like that since the 50s when there was no such thing as air conditioning. Also bars were big in the basement at that time and many houses at the very least have sinks.

The Italian immigrants LIVE in their basements since a large table is perfect to feed a small army on Sunday - hence the kitchens.

So something more sinister is going on. It is NOT the usual round of bogus contractors - we truly do not get that many anyway for the simple reason that we all KNOW each other (or at least used to) and will talk. We also ALL know SOMEONE in the business OR can do the job ourselves. Bogus contractors that I know of that have tried to work the neighborhood have targeted the elderly. Our elderly for the most part are very well taken care of and are watched out for either by family members or other neighbors.

Con men do NOT do well in Whitestone - they might LIVE in Whitestone - but that's a different story.

We at first believed that SOMEONE in the neighborhood had a grudge - but that there were way too many homes that were reported.

MAYBE realtors trying to harrass or intimidate Whitestoners into leaving? I will tell you - it is disturbing.

I personally have NOT been issued a summons - but a good many people I know have - some are elderly and they are frightened.

We, as a community, WANT to know what is going on and by who.

Babs said...

I also want to point out that the people I know that were issued summones had young adult children living in the household.

It therefore could be that our neighborhood and our "comings and goings" are being "watched".

Nice huh?

We want to know who it is.

Anonymous said...

Wanna know who it is ?

Take a look at your neighbors nanny's, cooks @ housekeepers for starters.
You would be surprised how many have dealings with gangs and communicate with little FRS walkie talkies.
These gangs are getting pretty organized and tech-ie nobody wants to face it.

Babs said...

Although I believe you have an excellent point, in my neighborhood, there are too many houses that have been reported. I read 500 total in Whitestone, Flushing and College Point.

Also none of the people that I know personally who were reported have cleaning people.

People suspect the neighbor that they have long feuded with or the grouch down the block or an ex-lover - this is why too this is scary, people are angry at someone who they really shouldn't be angry or suspicious of.

We cannot take this lightly - we are being watched for some reason.

We have Halloran to thank for even getting this far. He was reported too I understand.

Anonymous said...

the building inspector who responded to a phony violation on my property two years ago ,said that angry illegal violation developers were retaliating on entire blocks of homeowners.

this was in Bayside /Auburndale.

Babs said...

a HA! - the plot thickens . . .

Bayside/Auburndale area - great old nab. Yes, I remember they were knocking down many of the old beauties and replacing them with crap and/or creating churches a few years back over there. I also remember some multi-family homes going up too but closer to Northern.

These two companies are obviously involved somehow since all the calls came from their offices.

This has become quite the mystery. I want to know who these lowlifes are - AND no red flag went up in the Building Department?

Reminds me of that old song - "you gotta a friend" . . . .