NAPA (CBS SF) — Napa County property owners affected by the wildfires in October have contacted the FBI about what they believed were fraudulent bills for fire debris removal services, Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley said Wednesday.
The “bills” actually are preliminary lien notices from subcontractors who performed legitimate debris removal services, Haley said.
Contractors and subcontractors send the lien notices to protect their right to file a lien if they are not paid when a construction project
is finished, Haley said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated many of the debris removal contracts instead of the property owners. The direct contractor in a federal government contract is required to have a payment or performance bond to ensure all subcontractors are paid for the debris removal, so filing a lien is not necessary, Haley said.
Not all the subcontractors, however, are familiar with federal government contracts and it appears they are simply filing preliminary lien notices as a matter of routine, Haley said.
Property owners who receive a preliminary lien notice should contact the listed contractor to make sure they removed the debris and did so under a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or another federal agency, Haley said.
Property owners with questions about the preliminary lien should contact the Napa County District Attorney’s Office’s Consumer/Environmental Protection Unit at (707) 253-4059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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