An alleged roofer who said he hadn’t seen much business lately went neighborhood by neighborhood, offering to do free roof inspections. He offered a story about how the original builder used inadequate roofing materials and that he has personally come across three houses in the neighborhood that would have had serious damage if not for his free inspection. 

An alleged roofer who said he hadn’t seen much business lately went neighborhood by neighborhood, offering to do free roof inspections. He offered a story about how the original builder used inadequate roofing materials and that he has personally come across three houses in the neighborhood that would have had serious damage if not for his free inspection.  

Of course, he says that there is no cost for the inspection, but if damage is found, he can give phenomenal prices due to his crew already being in the neighborhood. So an interested person, whose fixed income is primarily Social Security, agrees to his offer. After all, the man seems nice and sincere, and of course, the inspection was free.  

What happens next? You guessed it; the “roofer” found that the shingles were weak and poorly attached. A good wind and rainstorm would cause major damage. The $7,500 price tag seemed somewhat high, but prices are increasing with everything, and being in the house could be dangerous if a storm arrived.

Just a few problems:

The house didn't need shingles; Not only was the roof in good condition, the quoted price was about twice what it should have been; and Since there was no grade of shingles specified, the roofer was free to put on the cheapest grade he could find.

The result? A poor roof at a very high cost at best, or at worst, the money would be collected up front for materials and then no work done at all.

Frauds of this nature fall into three basic types – fraudulent “free inspections,” willing home-owner participants, and “take the money and run.”

Repairman/free inspection: One of the most common frauds that is perpetrated is one committed against people who want to maintain their home, but are ill-equipped to make judgments as to the necessity of such repairs. Someone who is elderly or not physically able to follow a roofer up onto a roof or navigate a crawl-space to determine the integrity of the foundation is not likely to recognize a fraudulent estimate.

The willing home-owner participant:  This fraudulent contractor actually pulls the homeowner in on the scam.  The contractor approaches potential victims whose homes are in need of repair, and suggests that he can help them get their home repaired at no cost. It sounds simple.  The contractor tells the homeowner to file a claim with the insurance company, saying that wind, hail, broken pipes, or some other accident has damaged the property.  In exchange for a contract, the contractor performs repairs, but doesn’t charge the homeowner the deductible.  

What isn’t explained to the homeowner is that by signing a fraudulent claim, they in fact are committing a crime. Insurance companies are taking this problem very seriously, and will prosecute for insurance fraud.

Guess who they will prosecute?  Not the contractor. His estimate doesn’t indicate anything illegal, and he places the blame on the homeowner.

Take the money and run: These contractor swindles are prevalent, yet it is so easy to stay out of their way.  It usually starts with a knock at the door by someone claiming to be a contractor who is doing work in the neighborhood and willing to work quickly and cheaply. The scam comes when he claims to need money to go out and pick up the supplies but will be right back. He even says that he doesn’t want complete payment until after the job is completed. Of course, he never comes back with supplies. Occasionally, these guys even start some demolition work before they leave, but once the money is in hand, they’re gone. Most legitimate contractors will not bill the customer until the job is completed.  

If you are contacted by anyone proposing any of the listed activities please do not get involved with them. It is fine to refuse to do business with them and call your local police department as soon as possible.

If you would like additional information, contact Blue Springs Crime Prevention Officer Doug Heishman or Sgt. Allen Kintz at 228-0178.