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Scams target the elderly 09-20-12
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.
In a recent incident on Wednesday (September 19), an 87-year-old man reported that he was approached by a couple who offered to power wash his roof. After agreeing on a price, the female suspect said she needed to go into the victim’s house to shut the windows to prevent water from entering. The victim was momentarily distracted by the male suspect while the woman remained in the house. The couple left without completing the job, and then the victim discovered several valuables were missing from his house.
Police caution the public against agreeing to having residential improvements done without first conducting their own research. 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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