Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez released the lawsuit filed against an out-of-state “Storm Chaser” fraudulent construction company for swindling thousands of dollars out of northwestern suburban homeowners through a deceptive business involving the reconstruction of houses that were damaged by hail and heavy winds following several extreme storms in 2010.
Godfather Construction – a Texas-based construction company that deals with storm damages, along with its owner-operators – Steven Anderson, Thomas Kamin, and Freddie Miles of Texas and Indiana have been charged for consumer fraud. Additionally, Peter Syaras – the President of Syaras Roofing based in McHenry, Illinois, was also named in the lawsuit. Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against the defendants, seeking restitution for the defendants’ victims who have not yet been provided with retribution previously. Furthermore, the defendants are now banned and enjoined from conducting fraudulent business in Cook County and the State of Illinois, specifically in the industry of construction of houses and buildings.
Defendants Anderson, Kamin, and Miles were reported to be the operator-owners of the Godfather Construction, wherein it has expanded into the State of Illinois in April of 2010 to take advantage of the unfortunate events following several heavy storms that caused extreme hail and wind damage to numerous homes in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Defendant Syaras was also revealed to have gotten involved in a contract with the Godfather Construction, also in April of 2010, wherein the defendant was said to be responsible for registering the company as a licensed roofer under his roofing license; however, not only did defendant Syaras fail to register the Godfather Construction Company to be properly licensed in Illinois, but also allegedly accepted profits from agreeing to doing business with the company.
Investigations revealed that defendants Anderson, Kamin, and Miles are the “Storm Chasers” of the Godfather Construction Company. They were said to be responsible for traveling to communities that have been severely affected by storms. In this position, they are liable for targeting the insurance money that is received by the homeowners of those structures that has endured severe weather damage. The defendants were said to indulge in deceptive business by first, claiming that the Godfather Construction Company is licensed to deliver services in the State of Illinois, and then coercing homeowners into acquiring their services. Defendants Anderson, Kamin, and Miles have allegedly been contracted by homeowners to make repairs in six different homes within Des Plaines, Niles, and Park Ridge in April of 2010.
Through the fraudulent scheme of the defendants, homeowners were made to believe that the Godfather Construction Company is reputable and experienced in the field of reconstructing infrastructure that has been damaged by storms; however, the reality is that the defendants have been illegally acquiring the services of unlicensed laborers from out-of-state to perform what was noted to be either incomplete or substandard services.
Apart from defrauding homeowners, the defendants were also reported to have been taking advantage of several subcontractors, who they failed to present with fair wages properly. Due to these instances, numerous workers have refused to take part in their business, leaving several repairs unfinished. Some of the subcontractors that were failed to be paid by the defendants have threatened to file liens against the homeowners in order to receive restitution and payment for the work they completed. Prosecutors declared that the defendants collected nearly $60,000 in total for payments from their victims. It was also noted that only several victims received retribution for their losses prior to the lawsuit filed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and only after reaching out to the local authorities for help.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asserted that the Office would continuously aim to provide the Cook County residents with consumer protection, especially from these fraudulent schemes. “Cook County residents who suffer severe storm damage to their homes have every right to expect honest services from home repair contractors in an emergency. The State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Unit will aggressively enforce our consumer protection laws and hold unscrupulous storm-chaser companies who engage in fraud fully accountable,” said State’s Attorney Alvarez.
On top of these events, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez issued a Consumer Alert on June 30, 2011, to remind citizens to remain vigilant, especially of “storm chasers” who have been actively targeting homeowners whose homes have been hit by the recent storms.
Further information on the lawsuit, as well as additional information on consumer fraud and consumer fraud safety protections, may be acquired from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – Consumer Fraud Unit through Telephone at (312) 603-8700.
Updated: October 10, 2020