EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSTORM SCAMS
from Eyewitness News Online
Officials Warn Of Scammers Targeting After Storms
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jul. 11, 2012 10:56 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 11, 2012 11:13 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
As the cleanup from the recent storms starts, so does the work of scammers.
Officials say it's a common occurrence after a natural disaster. Scammers hitting the streets, ready to offer help, but not afraid to take off with your money.
"I think it's awful," said Clarence Goff. He weathered out the recent severe storms in the hospital, only to come home to find part of his roof had been blown off his west side home.
Goff says the man showed up and offered to repair the damage, but wanted cash on the spot. Fearing rain and another storm could cause damage to his personal belongings, he went to the ATM and withdrew $400.
"All this rain was pouring down and I thought, 'this is going to tear the whole inside of the house up,'" said Goff.
Goff says the man took the money, and then took off, only partially repairing the roof.
"He put a piece of little felt paper over it and charged me that much for it," he said.
"After the storm you have people that want to take advantage of people, usually elderly people," explains Jill Miles from the WV Attorney General's Office.
A story so common, they started a Home Improvement Task Force. They investigate the crooks, build up the case, and turn the information over to police.
"If it's a situation where they pay them money, and they get no services, that's a crime, that's obtaining money under false pretenses," explains Miles.
Some red flags to keep in mind:
1. Don't do business with someone who shows up at your door.
2. Make sure they have a contractor's license.
3. Never pay in cash.
4. Get an actual contract in writing for the work.
A lesson learned for Goff. He says he doesn't expect to get the money back, but hopes his story will serve as a reminder for others when scammers come knocking.
If you need to report a scam, call the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.
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