Groups of “Gypsy Scammers” are targeting home and business owners of central and south Texas with a rip-off con involving asphalt pavement.
“For the most part they all stay in brand new park model travel trailers and all have brand new trucks and cars,” the informant stated on January 27, 2014. “I don't know much about the business but It just smells fishy. So I don't know if that's information that can be passed on to detectives or not. It's a group of very shady unfriendly people.”
Various Texas police and sheriff departments are fielding reports of new trucks with out of state license plates driving in neighborhoods looking for prospects.
Their typical pitch is to “contact homeowners and tell them they have extra paving materials left from a previous job,” warns the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office in Boerne. “They then offer their services at a much reduced price.”
The price is substantially higher
“When the work is completed they approach the homeowner stating that problems occurred during the paving process and the “new” price is substantially higher,” the alert states. East of San Antonio law enforcement report that in some cases the scam artists say “they are in the neighborhood doing a job and they finished early and have some extra supplies and could fix your driveway for a very low price.”
“In the driveway scam they pour old motor oil on the asphalt and it looks great at first but then you realize that it never dries,” a homeowner in East Texas reported just before Christmas. “You have sticky oil on your driveway forever.”
My uncle was ripped off...
“My uncle was ripped off by these guys driving brand new trucks. One was a F350 flatbed,” said Howard Keys of Comal County. “The guy was wearing a nice orange, clean reflective vest, and told him he could give him a great price of a $1 a foot.”
“It turned out that $200 bid was suddenly $3000 when they presented him the bill,” Keys continued. “Hell, it turns out it was just oil and dirt mixture poured over his cracks and potholes and didn’t even last the week.”
“He said he thought they were from the Texarkana area,” the nephew elaborated. “They were out of receipts, but would bring it by later. Nope, never came back, but they cashed his check damn fast.”
Large trucks and heavy equipment
The Kendall County Sheriff’s Office says “this group has several large trucks and heavy equipment with signage that states they are from Arkansas.”
Residents of San Antonio have been warned about a similar scam where people portray themselves as utility workers.
“They tried to come in my house, but I told them my brother is asleep and that he is a policeman and I don’t want to and can’t wake him up,” Lucia Anaya, from South San Antonio explained. “They tried this to my neighbors one year and asked to let their kids use the restroom and tried to steal their jewelry.”
Hector Bernal, a resident of the Harlandale community warned of a group of contractors that “say they can paint your house or garage real cheap if you buy the paint.”
Gone before you know it, just like your money
“You give them $50 or $100 to go buy the paint and they ask you if their kids can wait at your house until they come back from the paint supply store,” Bernal explained. “After those parents leave, those kids are gone before you know it, just like your money.”
The San Antonio Police Department says the asphalt scammers particularly target “elderly homeowners. In these scams, the Travelers (usually described as white males, in their 30's or 40's, driving nice pickups and pulling trailers with paving equipment), approach the resident with a "too good to be true" discount deal on doing paving work, requiring payment up front.”
“In a few cases, the ‘Travelers’ actually dump asphalt on the driveway first, then demand payment from the resident, making threats of harm if not paid.”
Law enforcements agencies all say the same thing: Do not agree to any of these deals and call the police if someone threatens you.
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