CHICAGO (CBS) — The next time a storm hits, watch out: You could be targeted in a home repair scam.
A year-long investigation called “Operation Hail” has uncovered more than 70 cases of roofing and siding repair scams. Numerous companies are being investigated by the Illinois State Police and National Insurance Crime Bureau.
2 Investigator Dave Savini first began looking into one of the operations a year ago.
Using knuckles, fingers and other instruments to make dents is how phony storm damage is created, insurance-fraud investigators say. CBS 2, using a hidden camera, watched roofing and siding workers swarm a neighborhood after storms.
Cameras caught workers digging into roofs and pressing against siding, hoping to collect insurance money to repair the bogus hail damage.
One of the workers was Chris Skedd, who appeared to make dents with his thumb. The other was Heather Stebelton.
The two Blue Rose Restoration workers have been arrested in connection with Operation Hail.
More than 70 cases of fraud involving numerous companies are suspected in Illinois during just the last year. For the past two years, Illinois ranked number one in the nation for hail damage fraud. More arrests are expected.
Mike and Sheila Dunivan of Aurora say they were victims of this type of fraud from Blue Rose Restoration workers. They say following a hail storm, the storm chasers put dents in their siding before the official adjuster arrived.
Just by chance, a CBS 2 undercover camera caught Skedd in the Dunivan’s backyard while also catching him making dents on a home nearby.
“It looks like the back of my house was hit with a ball pin hammer, and it was not like that,” Sheila Dunivan said.
Authorities are investigating several other roofing and siding companies in addition to Blue Rose Restoration, which appears to have cleaned out its offices.
“People are getting fed up with kind of stuff,” says the NICB’s Roger Morris.
He says everyone’s’ premiums are affected by this type of insurance fraud.
Because of the CBS 2 investigation, the Dunivans filed a police report. Their insurance company eventually paid for new siding — citing vandalism, not a storm.
Home owners can check out anti-fraud tips provided by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Click here for more information.