VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Police in Venice have arrested an Orlando man accused of unlicensed contracting.
This Sunday, an officer spotted Eric Ziko’s truck in a neighborhood hard hit by Hurricane Ian. When he initiated contact with the man, he quickly learned he wasn’t licensed to do the work he said he would.
“The amount of money he was charging was suspect, and it made us kind of worried,” said Capt. Eric Hill with the Venice Police Department.
Police said Ziko presented himself as a licensed roofing contractor and entered into a contract with a victim at Bay Indies Resort Community to replace their mobile home roof for $47,000. The victim had already given the man a 50% deposit.
Authorities were able to stop that payment, but Hill explained that not everyone is that fortunate.
“We have individuals that have no intentions of doing any work and they are coming in and they are taking money from individuals, sometimes their life savings, and they are just taking it and walking away,” the police captain said. “It’s sad. It is despicable.”
Police have since learned there are other victims.
Residents in the Venice neighborhood said they’re on the lookout for anything suspicious.
“Some people have no conscience, no scruples, no integrity, and that is the way it goes, and it is unfortunate,” a resident said.
Police and city code enforcement officers are patrolling hard-hit neighborhoods seven days a week while on the lookout for bad actors looking to take advantage of storm victims.
“We are highly in tune to this situation,” Hill said. “We are going to pursue all legal avenues available to us to hold you accountable if you think you are going to come here and take advantage of our citizens.”
“Anyone who has entered into a contract with ‘E and Z US Roofing’ should take appropriate and immediate steps to protect themselves and report the matter to your local law enforcement agency,” said Venice PD in a social media post.
Police said homeowners should always verify someone doing work at their home by searching their name and business name on myfloridalicense.com. Hill also recommends taking a photo of the individual’s driver’s license and license plate, putting any work quoted into writing, and if you do have to give a deposit, using a check or card instead of cash.