The Chubb official looked up the bond’s number and told Madden the bonds were fraudulent.

Nelson’s contract began on June 18, 2013 and work began on Aug. 8. The airport authority issued a stop order when the bond problem was discovered early, says Brian L. Kuhn, general counsel for the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Little work had been done.

“The contractor had put up a construction fence, moved a temporary trailer on the property, moved a couple pieces of equipment on the property and removed some salvageable materials, but no demolition of the structure had begun when the contract was cancelled for failure to produce good performance and labor and materials bonds,” Kuhn says.

The airport authority rebid the project Oct. 23 and bids are currently being evaluated.

But the reason why no one at the authority vetted the surety remains unclear.

“We followed our normal vetting process, which would not have included checking for forged signatures,” Kuhn says.

So why was Nelson chosen for this job despite earlier problems?

Because the company submitted the low bid and was on the qualified bidder list, Kuhn says.

The airport authority hasn’t paid anything to Nelson so far and the authority is in preliminary discussions with the company’s attorneys regarding pay, Kuhn says. “There has been no decision on any specific amount, or if we owe them anything.”

But how much money may be recoverable from Nelson, based on the amount of money they would have received from sales of materials removed from the project?

“That is also part of the discussion with his attorneys, nothing has been decided on that either,” Kuhn says.

Meanwhile, Lotz points out how simple it is to check on the authenticity of a bond.

“This is not rocket science,” he says. “All you must do is call the national office of the surety underwriter [in Warren, N.J) and verify the legitimacy.”