BURLINGTON, MA – Burlington police warned residents Wednesday of a series of home improvement scams in the area. After her release, four residents of Burlington and residents of several nearby towns were victims of the fraud. In the scam, men posing as contractors approach residents at home and offer to do home improvement at low rates. The men “reportedly have an Irish accent.”
They take a small upfront payment and once they start saying there is more work to be done for which they are raising their prices. “When the homeowner finally refuses to pay more money, the suspects leave the property and do not return,” police said.
According to the police, many of the victims were older. Last month, the Burlington police records contained at least two reports of unsuccessful attempts at this scam. In one case, the reporter said, “His grandmother was almost betrayed by a construction crew.”
The fraud has also been reported in Waltham, Bedford, Marlboro, Mansfield, Woburn, Dedham, Bedford and Lexington, according to Jim Tigges, a Burlington police officer.
“I can’t be too specific about the loss of money, but typically the loss for each victim is $ 5,000 or more,” said Tigges.
Burlington Police are actively investigating the fraud and encouraging anyone with information to call 781-272-1212.
The department also shared the following do-it-yourself fraud tips from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:
- Fraudsters often reach out to potential home improvement fraud victims by phone, email, or door-to-door, possibly claiming that they worked on site and have excess supplies.
- Scammers often offer their services for a very low price.
- Make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by using the home improvement registration search service. Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business.
- Be careful when the person drives an unmarked vehicle.
- Obtain a copy of the company’s standard contract.
- Find out where the company is, if it’s a local business, and check at least three references.
- Find out if the company provides a guarantee and how long that guarantee is valid.
- Be careful if a severe weather event has just occurred. Scammers often use storms as an opportunity to target potential victims of home improvement fraud.
- Never pay more than a third of the total cost of a service in cash upfront and only after verifying that this person is a registered home improvement and that you have a contract.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can verify that the company is a member, and the BBB and the Attorney General can also tell you if there have been any complaints against the company.
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Police are warning of a number of home improvement scams across the region
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