One subject that angers most people, yours truly included, is the scammers and crooks who prey upon innocent citizens who have become victims of natural disasters, including storm damage from high winds, hail and lightning.

One subject that angers most people, yours truly included, is the scammers and crooks who prey upon innocent citizens who have become victims of natural disasters, including storm damage from high winds, hail and lightning. These crooks are known as storm chasers. They will actually watch the weather and drive to a town where storm damage has occurred and take advantage of citizens who have suffered storm damage by offering to fix the damages or inspect people’s homes looking for any damage.

The latest reported incident of this type of scam has already happened here in Independence since the severe storm that passed through last Saturday. One of our senior citizens, who is a very courageous lady, received a knock on the door of her residence to be met by a man and woman who stated they were there to inspect the roof of her home for hail damage. Whether they passed themselves off as city inspectors or insurance inspectors is unclear at this point, it remains clear that the scammers were very persuasive and talked the home owner into letting them climb onto the roof of her house.

After the “inspectors” finished whatever they did on the roof, they again contacted the innocent home owner and told her she owed them $170 for the inspection service they had just performed. When the home owner began to question the scammers about who they were, what they did, and why she owed them money, the scammers became belligerent and threatening.

Our brave lady wrote the scammers a check for $170 and promptly called her bank to cancel the check once the crooks left. The crooks wasted their time and effort with this good citizen and I say hooray for her.  

According to Mr. David Colmans, executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service, sometimes the scammers will just leave a door knob hanger on the home owner’s front door with the intent of calling back later. He says, “A doorknob hanger tells the homeowner that recent catastrophic hail and windstorms struck the area and the home may have severe damage from the storms. The hanger goes on to report ‘insurance companies are compensating.’ Also, ‘most homeowners are unaware of the storm damage on their roof.’ Here’s the kicker: The roofer or construction company offers a ‘free roof inspection and property inspection for storm damage and insurance compensation.’ In other words the roof and property inspection will be compensated by the insurance company after the home owner pays the “inspectors.”

Don’t fall for these scams or any other scams. Should anyone knock on your door, and you’re not expecting visitors, you don’t have to answer it. If you can peek out and see that you don’t know them, remember it is your home and you don’t have to engage them in conversation. If you feel uncomfortable about a stranger’s presence, call the police. We do not mind checking on suspicious persons.

If you have any questions regarding scams or suspicious activity, please call Officer Tom Gentry at 816-325-7258, or e-mail to tgentry@indepmo.org. In case of emergency always call 911.