Sheriff warns of home improvement scamming

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By Shane Farley
October 6, 2011 - 9:16:57 pm

Cowley County residents - especially those living in rural areas - are being warned to lookout for potential scam artists selling various home-improvement type services.

Sheriff Don Read said Thursday that his office had recently become aware of several Kansas law enforcement agencies investigating a series of frauds without out-of-state ties. The elderly and people living in rural areas are often targeted.

In most instances, services - like the installation of a lightning protection system, tree trimming, asphalting or other home repair work - are offered by crews that show up unannounced. A crew leader might attempt to engage the homeowner so that it’s not possible to check the quality of the work being done.

Victims can be pressured to sign off on the work.

People involved in conducting these schemes are often associated with larger organizations which travel the country in cyclical periods, returning to call on previous victims every few months or years, Read said..

Recent scams include an offer to install a lightning rod and ground cable in exchange for a large sum of money. Those perpetrating the scam might return later to fixes problems with the system in exchange for more money.

Some victims report that high-pressure tactics are used to collect higher-than-agreed-upon fees. This includes the threat of a lawsuit if big fees are not paid. Once a check for payment is secured, the work crew leader will go to the bank and instantly cash the check.

Most victims have been rural residents but some living within cities have been targeted.

Read asked that those who have been victimized - or know someone who has - call the sheriff’s department at 221-5444 or contact your local police department.

You should also call if you are contacted by people attempting to execute such a scam.

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