"Travelers" Home Repair Scams Due Each Spring

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RENO, NV - Drive down any residential street in the spring and it's likely you'll see examples of the wear and tear the winter has wrought on our homes.

But warm weather also brings scam artists. What they see is opportunity.

They're called travelers and they cruise neighborhoods looking for their next victims. That's exactly what one James Gregg did last year in Sparks.

He knocked on Pat Copple's door and offered to repair some missing shingles.

"He told me he was a contractor from Las Vegas," she says "and that he was driving around and he could see that wind had damaged our roof."

They agreed on a price and he later returned and went to work--or so she thought.

"I thought he was working because he was hammering here and there."

Later, other family members climbed up on the roof and brought back the photographic evidence. He'd done nothing up there, but make noises.

She'd been scammed.

Fred Schoenfeldt is the investigative supervisor for the Nevada Contractor's Board. He says travelers typically target seniors and usually work roofing or driveway repair scams.

The best you can expect from them is shoddy work or no work at all, but some, especially those promising to repave your driveway can be up to something more.

"White the front man is engaging the victim, quite often other members of the crew will be coming through a back window or they could be casing it for a later burglary," he says.

"They've actually been known to do burglaries while the front man was presenting the deal."

By the time their victims realize what's happened they're usually long gone and hard to track down.
Gregg was an exception. He was arrested and tried for fraud and is serving an 8 year term.

His sentence ordered restitution so his victims, at least the three we know of, got their money back.

They also got a lesson Pat Copple would like to pass on to others.

"If they come to your door, please don't do it. You'll get scammed."

Schoenfeldt says legitimate contractors rarely go door to door, so that should be the first red flag. Asking to be paid in cash is another.

Ultimately the best practice is never to agree to repairs on the spot, get more than one estimate and, if there's any question, call the Contractor's Board.