Beware of chimney scammers
by Ed Wendell
May 03, 2012 | 758 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two days after the very first cave was built, the very first caveman was approached by the very first con artist who told him his new dwelling needed to be inspected.  And then repaired.  And homeowners have been doing battle with scammers ever since.  If you own a home in Woodhaven, put aside five minutes to read this article, it may save you a few thousand dollars and lots of agitation.

Unscrupulous businessmen and scammers have been targeting the residents of Woodhaven again with various claims that one agency or another is requiring homeowners to get their homes inspected on a yearly basis.  

Typically, these claims will be made over the telephone but they have been known to operate door-to-door.  Be careful.  As a general rule of thumb, don't do business with anyone that cold calls you or rings your doorbell.  

They aren't calling to do you any favors and they will lie and prey on your fears in order to separate you from your money. 

Some of these scammers will be careful how they word their claims.  Some of them might not say an inspection is required, but that the city would "like" you to get the inspection, or that "you are advised" to get the inspection.  Don't fall for it.  

Upon letting them in your home they will tell you how lucky it was that they came, that your home was in dreadful shape, that it was currently a danger to you and your family, etc.  And then they will commence to perform questionable and unnecessary work that usually costs you thousands of dollars.  

Don't fall for it.  These con artists typically try to prey on females and the elderly, and they are not above intimidating people once they know they've got their hooks into you.  Last summer, two such dirtbags were arrested and arraigned after ripping off Queens homeowners of more than $30,000 in a series of chimney repair scams.  In one case they drove a 94-year old woman to the bank to get more cash and threatened to put liens on her house if she didn't pay.  We don't want this to happen to any of our residents, so be forewarned and aware. And don't fall for it.

Earlier this year, Con Edison reported that telephone scammers were telling consumers that they needed to purchase "Green Dot Money Paks" in order to pay their utility bills. Con Edison does not accept payments via Green Dot Money Paks.  Con Edison also warns that you should beware of callers asking you to arrange for pre-paid credit cards as a way to pay your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state or unfamiliar address. Don't fall for it. 

Also, if you are wary of any Con Edison employee arriving at your home or business to read your meter, you can call 1-800-75CONED (1-800-752-6633) to verify their identity.

If you receive any unsolicited visits from people telling you that you need any kind of work done, do not let them into your home.  If these individuals will not leave, or continue to linger around your property acting suspicious, do not hesitate.  Call 911.

If you receive any telephone calls, write down all the information you can.  If you have Caller ID, write down their phone number.  Write down their company name, and don't be fooled if the name sounds familiar as scammers have been known to create companies whose names are very similar to known and trusted entities (e.g., Brooklyn Union Fill-in-the-Blank). 

And finally, if this warning has reached you too late and you believe that you have already been the victim of a scam, call the Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673 to file a complaint.  Be informed, be forewarned, be smart and be careful.  Most importantly, don't fall for it.
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