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Don't fall into the kickback trap

If you're a contractor, chances are good that you've seen your share of grifters in the industry. They may glad-hand you when they see you on the job site, but behind the scenes, they're backstabbing you by rigging the bids and padding the bills by taking or accepting kickbacks.

It's a contractor's nightmare to get caught up in these type of illegal shenanigans. Not only could you potentially expose yourself to federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) violations, your good name — and that of your company — could be sullied as well.

How the game plays out

Sometimes it's a quid pro quo arrangement where you're told upfront that you'll get the bid as long as you agree to hire a certain subcontractor on a construction project. Other times it may be more subtle, e.g., "That's not how we do it around here," or words to that effect.

Under whatever guise it comes into play, it's never legal and it can always get you into legal hot water.

It's an unfortunate fact that there will be times when they playing field will not be level for you. When dishonest businessmen and -women engage in these type of shell games with private and governmental contracts, honest contractors are at a definite disadvantage.

What can you do in such situations?

Fortunately, there is enough construction work here in Florida that honest contractors will always have work. Under no circumstances should you ever relax your standards and agree to "play the game," as that will not end well for you. When you see that the bids are indeed rigged, you can either report it and accept the consequences that whistleblowing may bring or you can opt out of bidding on certain jobs when you know that someone is thumbing the scale for their own or others' benefits.

Source: Construction Citizen, "Games Contractors, Subs and Owners Play: Bribery," Jim Kollaer, accessed May 11, 2018

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