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Scams target the elderly 07-11-12
Hawaiʻi Police Department
Criminal Investigations Section, Area I
Lieutenant Gregory Esteban
Big Island police have received complaints about unlicensed contractors who appear to be soliciting our elderly citizens to hire them for various residential projects such as power washing and painting homes, paving driveways, performing auto body and mechanical repairs.
The scam surfaces when the unlicensed contractor offers his services to perform the work and asks for full payment, often claiming that material and supplies need to be purchased in advance. The potential victim verbally agrees and often pays the subject, who completes only a portion of the agreed upon work and leaves, claiming that he will return later to complete the job. The victim makes several attempts to contact the subject, who never returns to complete the job.
A variation on this scam is one in which the victim makes full payment in advance—often an exorbitant amount—and then receives shoddy results.
Police caution the public against agreeing to having residential improvements done without first conducting their own research. Although many unlicensed contractors perform excellent work, the remedies are few if an unlicensed contractor performs substandard work.
Consumers should ask for documents of identification from the individuals performing any work and only sign a written contract that specifies conditions of the project, including a deadline.
Police ask that anyone who may have been victimized in a similar scam call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or go to the nearest police station to file a complaint.
Consumers may also call the division of the Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO) of the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs (DCCA) at 808-587-3222. The RICO web address is http://hawaii.gov/dcca/rico/.
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