Media Release - W.Va. State Fire Marshals busts bogus would-be electricians


Nov. 12, 2019
W.Va. Fire Marshal busts bogus would-be electricians
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Four individuals lied when they applied to become West Virginia-licensed electricians and then showed up to take the necessary exam Tuesday – apparently unaware that a multi-agency investigation was on to them.
The men were approached and arrested by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which had uncovered their scheme and led the resulting probe. They were among the 150 or so who applied to take the four-hour test in downtown Charleston.
While the four provided names during their initial appearances in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, their identities were still being verified Tuesday. The men allege they reside in Virginia. Each is charged with forgery of a public record, a felony.
The Fire Marshal’s Office administers and enforces the state’s electrical licensing program. It received an application earlier this year that raised concerns about identify theft and fraudulent credentials. The resulting investigation and heightened scrutiny flagged additional applications, leading to Tuesday’s arrests.
Fire Marshal Ken Tyree said the case underscores the importance of safety rules that protect the public. Besides the threat from unsafe or hazardous work performed, Tyree cited the potential for further fraud. He noted as well that West Virginia’s electrical licensing program has reciprocity with several other states.
Several fellow Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety agencies are assisting the Office of the State Fire Marshal: the W.Va. State Police, W.Va. Intelligence Fusion Center, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Charleston Police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are also aiding the probe, which remains ongoing. Those charged are innocent until proven guilty.
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