Saturday, April 30, 2011

Surry County Sheriff Warns Of Scams

POSTED: 2:43 pm EDT April 29, 2011
With the return of warm weather, Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson is warning people to look out for scams typical to this time of year such as paving and barn-painting scams.Atkinson said there was a report of a paving scam on Tuesday, which is the first he has noticed this year. With this incident, a man and a boy stopped at a residence on Cook School Road and offered to repair the driveway. Atkinson said that according to the report, the man was elusive about the price of the repairs. After doing some work to patch up some spots on the driveway, the man charged the resident $2,800.He was described as being a white male around 45 years of age, 6 feet tall, weighing about 220 pounds, with graying hair. The boy with him looked about 12-years-old and had brown hair. The resident reported they were driving an old square-style bluish truck, possibly a Chevrolet.The sheriff said scams similar to this pop up every spring. The scammers often say they have “leftover asphalt” that they are using. Atkinson said they do not do foundation work when paving and they do not do a quality job. They then charge a high fee.Another typical scam is people offering to paint a barn, but after the first rain, it washes off because they just used something like colored kerosene.Atkinson advised, “Be suspicious if somebody walks up and volunteers to do unsolicited work.”The sheriff said people should make sure they have a firm verifiable agreement including the price and what work will be done. A legitimate company will have no problem signing a contract or providing references, Atkinson said. He said to be wary of any deal where it has to be done right now or never.Even though the operations are “terribly wrong,” Atkinson said, “It’s not a crime if they word it correctly and if the people say OK.”People can pursue a civil lawsuit, but the sheriff’s office cannot charge them. Atkinson said this is a gap in the state legal system. Though the officers sometimes find the people who are suspected of scams, Atkinson said, “a lot of times there’s not a crime to charge them with.”Another scam Atkinson said to be wary of is when a person drives up and says he or she is interested in purchasing nearby property or cutting down timber and asks the resident to walk outside to show them where the boundary of their property is. Meanwhile, someone else goes into the home and steals items. This article appeared in Friday's edition of the Mount Airy News.

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