Seniors warned about home-repair scam

Once again, RCMP are sounding the alert during Fraud Month about home renovations scams.

The warning comes after police were alerted to a Vernon senior being bilked out of nearly $5,000 last month and felt so embarrassed he didn’t say anything until he told a family member on March 8. The relative contacted police.

“With spring coming, a number of home repair scams get reported to police,” said Vernon RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

This case involved a man who came to the 82-year-old gentleman’s BX home and offered to sell the man his plumbing services.

The victim allowed the man inside and the suspect allegedly conducted an interior inspection of the senior’s home plumbing and pipes.

“He told the victim he needed to do a lot of serious work,” said Molendyk.

“He said the interior pipes were too small and that water flow would be greatly improved by re-fitting his pipes.”

The suspect said the work would cost approximately $5,000. The victim paid him the full amount and the suspect said he would come back in a week after getting materials.

The suspect did come back, but told the victim the job would cost more than he thought. When the victim said he hadn’t done any work in the first place, the suspect took off and never returned.

No receipt was issued to the senior, and the suspect never left a business card or any idea.

“The victim has no idea who the man is,” said Molendyk.

The only description of the alleged scam artist is that he’s Caucasian, about 200-pounds with a brush cut and dark glasses.

Police get these reports every year at this time, and say there are a few things people need to keep in mind to avoid such a scam.

“If you didn’t call anybody and an individual comes to your house, that should be a first clue,” said Molendyk.

“Sometimes roofers will leave a card, especially if a neighbour is getting their roof done, but we recommend you get two quotes.

“Get a little bit of background information on the individuals coming to do the work. Never pay up front first, especially the full amount. And get a receipt.”

Molendyk said suspects will usually target seniors or women who live alone around these types of home renovation scams.

“Think twice about handing money to an individual who comes knocking at your door,” he said. “Be diligent.”