CHICAGO (CBS) — When a Chicago woman’s water bill skyrocketed more than a thousand dollars, she turned to a city water department worker.
But that ended up costing her thousands more. Now Chicago’s Inspector General is investigating and so is CBS 2.
If a city worker is sent to your home to investigate a situation and offers to make repairs for a fee, that violates the city’s regulations regarding fraud and ethics.
In this case, the victim is a senior citizen who placed her trust in a city worker sent to her front door.
“He left everything,” said Barbara Bullock. “He didn’t come back.”
Bullock’s yard is now a dug up pile of dirt. She said it was left there by a city worker who offered to repair her underground leaking pipes for a total of $6,000. Work solicited while on an official call for the Chicago Department of Water Management.
“He said he could fix it. He said ‘I’m a plumber. I can fix it.'”
Six weeks later, Bullock is out the money she charged in full. The job’s not complete, and the city worker and plumber she said promised to return has stopped answering calls or texts.
“I really believed him because he’s working for the city,” Bullock said. “I’m thinking he knows what he’s doing.”
It all started over the summer when Bullock’s water bills jumped from $350 to nearly $1,600 dollars. She called the Chicago Department of Water Management which checked her meter in August and traced the problem to leaking pipes.
A problem several plumbers could not verify.
With water bills mounting by thousands of dollars, Bullock called the city back in September, and that’s when the worker was officially dispatched to her home to check her meter.
CBS 2 went to the Roseland home Bulllock’s receipt identifies as Circle Plumbing, but no one answered the door. The city of Chicago Department of Water Management would not confirm if the worker, who CBS 2 is not naming, is a full or part-time employee. In a statement, the city said the matter ” … has been turned over to the Office of the Inspector General.”
In the meantime, Bullock isn’t sure if her leaking pipes have been repaired, and her water bill at last check was more than $5,000. She’s understandably concerned.
“I am disappointed and I’m kind of scared because I don’t know what the next water bill will be like,” Bullock said.
The Inspector General’s office said they’ve seen this before, involving inspectors from the water department, department of buildings, and Chicago public housing. Bullock is contesting the $6,000 charges regarding the plumbing work that hasn’t been finished.