Supervisor accused of repair sign-off forgery

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2013

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A Christchurch building company has launched an internal investigation after one of its supervisors allegedly forged an owner's signature on an earthquake repair sign-off form.

Buildtech NZ has stood down the employee and says its probe will include checking its other supervisors' sign-off forms.

Robyn Fantham, property manager at Real Property Management, told The Press she had been "disgusted" to discover her signature had been forged.

The form said the repairs were up to standard, but she had not even inspected them.

In September, Fletcher EQR contracted Buildtech to do quake repairs on one of Fantham's properties. The next month, Fantham received a call from a Buildtech supervisor asking her to come down to the site and sign off to confirm repairs were satisfactory.

"Upon inspection we discovered the dining room wallpaper was peeling off at most of the edges and a crack in the garage floor had not been filled," Fantham said.

She asked Buildtech to complete the repairs and was told the supervisor would send through the "completion form" to Fantham for her to sign.

"I kept calling them around Christmas asking for the form and [the supervisor] told me she would look into it and get back to me," she said.

Fantham was therefore shocked to receive a call from Fletcher Building three months later saying the 90-day period from the sign-off date was almost up.

"...When I got [the forms] I saw someone had signed off my name and attempted to do my signature. It was a very bad job too. It looked nothing like my signature."

Checking the date on the form, Fantham saw the supervisor had forged her signature before Buildtech had even called her down to the site to inspect the repairs.

She rang the Buildtech supervisor, who told her it was "common" for her to sign off if property managers weren't available.

"It is fraud," Fantham said.

"They can't say I wasn't available because they signed it before they even asked me to come down."

Buildtech director Israel Cooper said the supervisor had been suspended pending an investigation.

"The police are looking into this and we have called in an independent investigator to look at all of our supervisors' sign-offs."

In a letter obtained by The Press, Cooper told Fantham he was glad she had contacted police.

"We take fraud very, very seriously and I can assure you that it will be dealt with as such."

Fletcher Building spokesman Barry Akers said an investigation was taking place which involved Fletcher and Buildtech.

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