Mississippi Center For Justice Holds Free Legal Clinics On Contractor Fraud

Lillian and Anderson Wray say they've paid nearly $150,000  to finish a job that was supposed to cost half that.  After about a month of work, they say the contractor they hired disappeared with their down payment, and they had to pay out more money.

"All seven subcontractors came to us and wanted their money. We called the attorney general's office and they said we had to pay them and so we did," says Lillian Wray.

People like the Wrays are why the Mississippi Center for Justice has expanded its services to work with contractor fraud cases.  More than two years after Katrina, they say the number of people who attended their free legal clinics in Pass Christian, Gautier and Waveland, shows how big the problem still is.

"All three locations were swamped tonight. I know there were a lot of people who came out tonight and many more who didn't make it. This tells us this is a major problem," says Crystal Utley with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Utley says the elderly and young families are two groups that tend to be targeted.

Officials with the state attorney general's office say they've made 58 arrests out of 95 contractor fraud cases. After their ordeal, the Wrays say they've learned an expensive lesson and they have some cautionary advice to pass along.

"Be very, very careful who you hire, and don't pay them until the job's done," says Lillian Wray.

If you're interested in getting free legal help, you can also contact the Mississippi Center for Justice at 228-435-7284.  For tips on how to protect yourself against contractor fraud, you can visit the state's attorney general's office.