Fake contractors arrested in Minnetonka accused of damaging homes to drum up business

Two men from England suspected of posing as contractors were arrested for allegedly damaging homes across the metro area to obtain business.

Minnetonka police were alerted by a concerned homeowner on Monday, July 24, about contractors offering to repair her damaged chimney. When the crew showed photos of the chimney damage, she grew suspicious when she later found broken pieces from the chimney laying on the ground in her backyard.

The homeowner contacted the company, which was listed on a handwritten invoice as Advantage Construction, and learned the crew did not work for the firm at all. In response, she took the next step of reporting them to the police.

"The individual, in this case, did what we want people to do," said Minnetonka Police Captain Andy Gardner in a statement. "She asked the work crew for identification and more information. When it didn’t make sense, she called the police."

Damage to the Minnetonka residents chimney. (FOX 9)

On Tuesday, Minnetonka detectives returned to the house and waited for the men to return; at which point they were confronted and arrested. According to the City of Minnetonka, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security helped identify the two contractors, who were from England. The two men are now in federal custody and two teenagers who were with the crew are in protective custody. The men have not been officially charged. 

The extent of the damage caused by the crew, and how many homeowners were involved, remains unknown. Law enforcement said the alleged contractors would offer free roof inspections and return with photos of the damage, which they claim needed to be repaired. In some cases, the men offered to drive the homeowners to the bank in order to obtain payment. Police are currently working with other law enforcement agencies and local contractors to determine how many cases are currently active.

The case acts as a warning to many homeowners on how to look for signs of deception and to help themselves and their communities from becoming targets. Investigators advise residents to be aware of traveling contractors who tend to move to a region temporarily during storm season. They commonly approach homeowners offering free inspections. 

"We want to make sure homeowners take a few simple steps when it comes to working with contractors," Capt. Garden said. "Ask to see company information and a state license. Don’t sign any contracts before you have verified the information. And do not pay for any repairs in cash."

Investigators are now looking at whether this incident is connected to another in Robbinsdale earlier this month, which FOX 9 previously reported on. In the Robbinsdale case, the homeowner who was victimized reported the suspects had Irish accents.