Brazil Det. Clint McQueen told The Brazil Times he is currently investigating two reports involving a group of out-of-town scam artists allegedly offering to do "cheap" home repairs. One took place before the storms, the other afterward.
"These scam artists are not connected to our local reputable contractors. The recent bad weather has damaged a lot of homes in the area, and people want to get their homes repaired as quickly as possible. But they shouldn't have to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more than they should to do it," McQueen said. "The suspects in question are, as of this time, targeting elderly people. These scam artists knock on doors of homes, saying they noticed potential repairs, and before a homeowner knows it, they're paying thousands of dollars for repairs they didn't want, but were talked into."
McQueen said one person has reported being scammed as much as five times the regular price a reputable contractor would have charged to do the same repairs.
"If a homeowner is planning to have work done, they need to get several estimates from contractors in the area," McQueen said. "Not from someone who walks up to the door unsolicited."
Officials urge homeowners to ask questions, do not agree to an on-the-spot committal to have the work done and never allow an unsolicited contractor in the home.
"Contractors do not normally go door-to-door soliciting services," McQueen said. "People need to remember they still need to do their research in effort to get their homes fixed."
Although they might not want to, McQueen wants to talk with anyone who is a victim or has potentially been approached by a scam artist in the area.
"Everything is kept confidential here at the department concerning these cases. It's a natural reaction to be upset about being duped," McQueen said. "But people need to realize that scam artists know how to smooth talk people. We're here to stop this from happening to people. We don't want anyone to lose their life savings to a scam."
To report a potential scam artist at work in the city, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211.
County residents who are victims of scam artists can contact the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 446-2535.
What to do
If approached by an unsolicited door-to-door home improvement contractor, officials at the Brazil City Police recommend homeowners ask and look for the following information to help the investigation, including,
* identification, business certificate and location, contact information and/or references,
* ask for a written quote, list of materials and expenses, and
* pay attention to any company names, logos or vehicle identification (make, model, color and license plate).