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Southeasts elderly targeted in scams

As summer arrives, so do the swindles--often directed toward the older segment of the population in Inner Southeast. Police advise that many of them involve construction offers from unlicensed and itinerant 'families' of scammers who regularly pass through the area. They often appear friendly, and frequently have 'special deals' arising from neighborhood connections and 'leftover materials'. Police strongly advise rejecting any such offers, which sometimes involve significant amounts of money.

On Tuesday, June 20th, an elderly woman living the Woodstock neighborhood reported that while she was working in her front yard two men drove up in a shiny green pickup and stopped. The driver got out and approached her in a friendly manner, asking how she had been, and extending his hand in greeting. He said he was the person who had re-shingled her roof several years earlier; however, she had no recollection of him.

After some conversation back and forth, during which the woman said she didn't think he was the man who had worked on her roof, he presented a 'special offer today' to apply a fiber-coating material on her entire roof (using her ladder). He said the coating would look beautiful, protect the roof, and restore it to its original color. All of this was offered for a fee under $20. When she refused his proposal, he offered instead to use the same material on her driveway for under $10!

The woman asked for his name and for one of his cards. He gave her a name, but had no card to offer, saying he had given them all out. The woman, who is in her 80's, wary and savvy, was taken aback when he next asked to use her bathroom. She refused permission, and told him where there was a public restroom nearby. He tried to persuade her, saying that he had drunk a lot of pop, but when she still refused, he went back to his vehicle and drove away.

Upon checking her records, the woman verified that the roof had been re-shingled twelve years earlier by an individual with a different name. Officers confirm that she had correctly refused a 'construction scam', of a type which frequently preys on the elderly. To maintain the woman's privacy we do not print her name, but we tell her story to advise other BEE readers of the sort of criminal activity which can victimize them, and to help show how such contacts can be handled.