Screen your Contractors!!!

Focus on FraudI was hoping I would be posting walkthrough videos of Rehab #8, Wenham and Rehab #12, Salem this week.  Unfortunately, something pretty huge happened over the weekend and the news is still developing.

As I mentioned in a prior post, we started using some new contractors for the Rehab #8, Wenham and Rehab #12, Salem projects.  I met the general contractor – lets call him “Bill” (because that’s what he told me his name was) from a Craigslist ad that I posted about a year ago for another project.  He seemed like a nice, normal guy and appeared to know his stuff but his price was too high for that project.  Nevertheless, I kept his contact info and when the Wenham project came up, it seemed like he had the expertise to get the job done.  We walked through the property and he told me that he would work with my pricing because he wanted to create a lasting relationship and be considered first for all of my jobs.  This sounded almost too good to be true!  As with any new contractor, I asked him to get me a copy of his CSL license, insurance paperwork, and a signed W-9.  After a waiting game and a lot of back and forth over something this simple, there were a few red flags raised and I was ready to tell him that we didn’t care to work with him.  That was until he told us we could pay him in arrears.  He’d do the work, before we ever had to cut him a check.  Seeing that he had finally provided his insurance paperwork, signed my independent contractor agreement and my scope of work and will sign lien waivers after each payment, what could we possibly have to lose?

For the first two weeks things ran pretty smoothly.  He kept in contact often and was sending me daily pictures of the progress.  My project manager confirmed that things were moving along.  But in the last 2 weeks things took a turn when Bill started blaming my project manager for one thing after another.

Fast forward to last Friday.  I took a half day from my day job to make a surprise appearance at Wenham and check on the progress.  I wanted to talk to him and my project manager to figure out what was going on and why Bill was pointing fingers.  He was working over at the Salem job when I got to the site so it gave me some time to walk around and talk with his crew.  It was then that we noticed a number of issues with some of the recent framing.  We also thought it was odd most of his crew was hired from Craigslist.  One of the guys took us around to point out all the framing issues that a previous crew did and he was now trying to correct.  I quickly called Bill to meet us at the site.

When I expressed my concern to him, he was surprisingly professional and said he would work it out this weekend with his 6-7 man crew but he wanted to be paid another $10,000 for the work.  I took out my scope of work that we both had signed and after going through what he accomplished to date, said I couldn’t provide him a check until he completely all the framing, which would be about another week.

Well, the next day my project manager got a call from the only guy on Bill’s crew who seemed to know what he was doing.  He said he wasn’t going to work for Bill anymore because Bill just wanted to get the job done instead of fixing the framing issues.

Ready for this, now?

After some investigative work by my project manager, we found out that “Bill” is really James McCarthy; and this is just one of the articles that we found about him.

My project manager called the lumber yard where James was getting the material and several of the subcontractors to see if they had been paid and not surprising, he owed them money.  Luckily he paid the lumber yard in cash for most of the lumber and owed them $600 due to a bounced check.   Also, most of the subcontractors were working week by week so he was paying them at the end of every week up until last week.

I also called the insurance company that issued the policy and they informed me it was not valid and that “Bill” came in but never completed the paperwork.  Knowing that he has committed insurance fraud, I called the Groveland police station to report the issue as they have been working on his case for some time.  I don’t want to write too much more because I know Bill, or James, is likely reading this post.

Luckily he didn’t do too much damage in Salem but it’s going to take some time to figure out the extent of the damage in Wenham.  At the end of the day, we are going to lose a lot of time straightening things out with the building inspector and fixing the issues, and we will likely be over budget even more to get another crew in there.

I should mention that James’ sons are involved in the scandal too.

Lessons Learned:

Verify, Verify, Verify!!!  I will be calling all insurance agencies of the contractors that I work with.  Also, I will do a more in-depth check of their references.  For instance, I will ask the reference for their address so I can call the town hall to see who pulled the permit.


Full Information of the Scumbags:James McCarthy (aka Bill mitchell)

Bill Mitchell
Blue Whale Contracting LLC
1950 Lafayette Road
Portsmouth, NH

Real Names – James McCarthy & his son’s Teegan and Tyler


Didn’t I tell you it’s tough finding good contractors?!

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  • It is pretty amazing the efforts some people will go through to try to screw you!

    One would think that the effort to establish a fake identity, start new companies, forge documents, find new workers for every job and all the other stuff he would need to do that maybe it would have just been easier to do the freaking work and try to do a good job!

    • I agree, but then again, we are ethical, honest people. The stories that the detective told me last night are staggering.

  • Jan

    Thank you very much, I really find this thing useful.

    • JC

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  • JC

    Another great post from you sir Justin

    • Jan


  • JC

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