Possible scam reported by elderly Fruitport resident

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:35 AM

The woman reported an unknown man came to her house in the 300 block of Park Street and said there was a crack in the roof of the home near the chimney. He offered to repair the roof for $4,700, said Lt. Bruce Morningstar of the Fruitport Township Police.

The man tried to convince the woman to withdraw money from her bank and even offered to provide transportation to the bank to make the withdrawal. A family member intervened, and the man quickly left, Morningstar said.

The man did not provide a written estimate for the repair, did not provide a business card or other literature, and did not offer information regarding whether he was a licensed contractor. This information suggests possible fraud, Morningstar said.

In these types of scams, offenders typically target senior citizens because the elderly are unlikely to follow the offender onto the roof to inspect whether or not there is actually damage.

Residents of the Fruitport area who may have had similar unsolicited contacts of this nature are asked to call the Fruitport Township Police Department at 231-865-8477. Tips about those engaging in contractor frauds can be called in directly to the police department or to Silent Observer at 231-72-CRIME.

The following suggestions are offered by police to avoid being scammed:

— Do not deal with unsolicited contractors who come to your home. Call police if you think the individual is engaged in possible fraud or may be casing your home.

— Deal with only reputable contractors. Check with friends or family members to see whom they have used for similar projects.

— Check with the Better Business Bureau for information about the company.

— Ask for references, and check them.

— Obtain written estimates (and/or a contract, if applicable) which specify the work to be done, the agreed-upon price for the work and the time frame in which the work will be completed.

— Obtain three or more estimates from different contractors; if there is a wide discrepancy, ask them to justify their price.

— Verify the contractor is properly licensed for projects requiring a licensed contractor.

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