Beware of Local Itinerant Paving Company
Columbus, OH (May 4, 2017) – Spring brings home improvement projects – both inside and out. For many parents or retired consumers who are home during the day, using a company that shows up at your door might be tempting. BBB is warning Central Ohio consumers against itinerant pavers sweeping the area.
Door-to-door pavers can easily sway homeowners with a few claims, including promising to finish the work in one day, doing the work for a low price, and offering a warranty to come back if problems arise. In reality, the pavers who show up at your door may not be a reliable company, could end up costing you more money and might disappear once they leave your neighborhood.
BBB has received a report of an itinerant paving company, Davis & Sons. A Ross County consumer stated that three men in a silver Dodge truck came to her home one morning, claiming to have started a new paving business. He asked if she would like her two driveways sealed for $800 total and a five-year warranty. After she agreed, they went to work, and later told her she wouldn’t be happy with the current product but could pay more for a “better” product. She agreed to pay more, but the company said they had run out of the product and were done for the day.
Davis & Sons told her to pay $3,600.00, which she paid in cash, but noticed afterward that her receipt only said $2,000.00. She believes the signature on the receipt reads “Maison Lowell”, but has no address or phone number for the company. They said they would return in three days, took back their business card, and have yet to come back or contact her, over two weeks later.
If you’re at home during the day, look out for these red flags to help avoid itinerant paving scams:
• The pavers are going door-to-door. Reputable asphalt contractors will rarely, if ever, sell their product door-to-door.
• They claim they have leftover asphalt from another job. Professional asphalt contractors know with great accuracy how much paving material is needed to complete a project and rarely will they have leftover material.
• They push you to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors provide a written estimate that should be valid for a specified amount of time. Do not feel pressure to hire someone on the spot.
• There is no written contract. Insist on a written contract specifying in detail the work
to be performed and the agreed total price, not just price per square foot.
• They insist on cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and don’t require cash-only terms.
• The deal seems too good to be true. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of work will be low as well.
• The contractor is from out of state or in an unmarked truck. Itinerant scammers will often drive unmarked trucks or have out of state license plates. Scammers have even recently been purchasing local cell phone plans to appear as if they are a local area business. A little research will reveal they have no permanent address or are traveling from out of state.
BBB advises consumers to research all options thoroughly and not be persuaded or feel obligated to sign a contract or agreement before all terms and conditions are clearly understood. Companies can be researched at bbb.org.
For more information on businesses you can trust, follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter and at bbb.org.
BBB Scam Spotlight: April 2017
Columbus, OH (May 3, 2017) – Each year, one in four North American households are scammed. Because money loss and identity theft can happen to anyone, BBB encourages community members to protect and inform others by reporting any scam-related experiences to BBB’s Scam Tracker.
BBB analyzed Scam Tracker reports from April 2017 to shed a spotlight on four scams affecting our Central Ohio community:
1. Can You Hear Me? Scam: Multiple consumers reported getting calls asking “Can You Hear Me?” or other questions attempting to get a “yes” answer. Once the consumer says yes, their affirmative may be recorded and used at a later time to say they agreed to a payment or a product. Fortunately, none of the consumers lost any money.
BBBs across the nation have recently seen reports of a new twist on the “Can You Hear Me” scam involving scammers posing as travel companies.
BBB recommends screening your calls and only answering numbers you recognize. If the call is important, there will be a voicemail. If you receive any calls asking “Can you hear me?” or any other questions that seem to be fishing for a yes, hang up immediately.
2. Phony Job Offer Scam: A resident from the south side of Columbus found an accounting job offer on Indeed.com posted by a company called Wesfarmers Ltd. She responded and was interviewed via Google Hangouts. The company then sent her a check for $4,870 to buy office equipment from their vendors. She purchased a MoneyGram from Walmart for $1,400 and decided to call BBB. BBB told her the offer was a scam and she would owe her bank the money if it was too late. She quickly called Walmart, who recalled the MoneyGram, resulting in no money loss.
It’s simple for scammers to create fake company websites, emails and job applications. Many work-from-home schemes sound too good to be true and promise a large reward for minimal work. Be wary of any business that only wants to interview you over the phone or asks you to wire money for any fees or supplies.
Indeed.com has guidelines for a safe job search.
3. International Lottery Scam: A senior citizen who lives in Columbus received a letter from Pacific Integrated Lottery Inc, located in London, England. The letter advised that she had won a lottery and included the check she could use it to pay the taxes, insurance, shipping and handling. They requested that she deposit the check into her account and mail them the fees.
Purchasing foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States, and the federal law prohibits mailing payments to purchase any ticket, share, or chance in a foreign lottery.
Victims who have been sent information that they “won” an international lottery will receive a fake check and be asked to wire money to a different country to pay the prize fees. They may not find out that the check was fraudulent for a few weeks, but will owe the money back to the bank. BBB urges consumers not to cash lottery checks they receive in the mail, no matter how real they may look.
4. Facebook Scam: A senior citizen in Marion, Ohio was contacted on his Facebook account and told he had won $500,000 and a Luxury Airstream RV. They told him that in order to claim his money and prize, he had to go to Walmart and send them $500 for insurance.
BBB urges consumers to beware of a variety of Facebook scams and to remember that if you really have won something, you will not have to pay money to receive it. Be cautious of any person who asks you to wire or send them money, especially through gift cards or MoneyGram.
For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.
North Carolina Man Indicted for Running Roofing Scam in Ohio, West Virginia
MARIETTA, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings announced the indictment of a roofer accused of stealing more than $200,000 from 34 victims in Ohio and West Virginia.
Anthony Combs, 49, of Smithfield, North Carolina, was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on seven counts, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, grand theft, theft from the elderly, telecommunications fraud, and money laundering. The indictment became public.
“People paid thousands of dollars and received nothing in return,” Attorney General DeWine said. “It was a classic scam, and we won’t tolerate it. We work closely with local law enforcement and county prosecutors to hold scam artists accountable and make Ohio a safer place for all consumers.”
“Mr. Combs walked away with a significant amount of money taken from a number of Washington County residents,” Prosecutor Rings said. “We appreciate the work of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and the assistance of the Attorney General’s Office in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. The grand jury’s indictment is just the next step in the process of holding Mr. Combs accountable for his crimes.”
According to investigators, Combs and his company, AMC Remodeling, operated in the Belpre area between September 2015 and June 2016 offering roofing services to consumers in Washington County and parts of West Virginia. Many of the consumers were elderly. After taking thousands of dollars from consumers, Combs allegedly delivered no services and provided no refunds.
An attorney with the Ohio Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Unit, a division of the Consumer Protection Section, was appointed by the Washington County Prosecutor to handle the case.
The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Unit, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Prosecutor’s Office, Vienna (W.Va.) Police Department, Parkersburg (W.Va.) Police Department, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Attorney General DeWine created the Economic Crimes Unit shortly after taking office in 2011 to identify criminal conduct in consumer fraud cases and to assist local law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys in holding scam artists criminally accountable. Since its inception, the unit’s investigations have led to 121 convictions.
Consumers who have roof damage should beware of contractors who offer repairs. Before making any payments, consumers should research a contractor by checking complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau, and by conducting an internet search of the business and the names of individuals involved.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org.
Former Treasurer Repays Funds Swindled From Agricultural Society
Columbus – A former treasurer who paid scammers $60,491 with Madison County Agricultural Society funds finished repaying the entity in March, according to a report released by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Brenda Roseberry was in charge of filing the agricultural society’s tax returns and paying its taxes, but she neglected to perform these duties during her tenure as treasurer. So she had little reason to question the credibility of individuals posing as IRS employees who in September 2014 called demanding payment for back taxes.
“Roseberry is a victim of her own crime,” Auditor Yost said. “Had she performed her fiscal responsibilities in accordance with the law, she may have seen through this smoke screen. Instead, she made herself a perfect target.”
The callers instructed Roseberry to purchase prepaid Green Dot cards and relay the card information over the phone. Roseberry complied, taking $60,491 from the agricultural society’s bank accounts without proper authorization to buy the cards at a local Giant Eagle. Most of the cards were cashed at Wal-Mart stores in Texas, but investigators linked the perpetrators to a network of scammers that funneled the money to India.
Roseberry pleaded guilty on Oct. 2, 2015, to a fifth-degree felony count of failure to file return and pay withholding. She was sentenced the following December to two years of probation and ordered to pay restitution, court fees and audit costs. Robert F. Smith of the Auditor’s office served as special prosecutor for the case.
The agricultural society entered into a settlement agreement with Roseberry on May 9, 2016, requiring her to pay restitution for losses that resulted from the scam and tax penalties. At the time of the settlement, she had paid more than $35,800. Roseberry owed an additional $38,000 under the agreement, which she finished paying with a check dated March 30, 2017.
Auditor Yost in June 2016 advised local governments to remain vigilant due to an increase in scams targeting local governments. More information is available on the Auditor of State’s cybersecurity webpage.
A full copy of this report is available online.
Jersey Township Financial Records “Unauditable”
Incomplete financial records and bank reconciliations prompted Auditor of State Dave Yost to place Jersey Township (Licking County) on the “unauditable” list.
“Poorly kept records create a lack of accountability,” Auditor Yost said. “Jersey Township must bring its records back to an auditable condition to complete the audit.”
During the course of the regular financial audit of Jersey Township for the period Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016, the Auditor of State’s office determined that the condition of the township’s financial records was not adequate to complete the audit. In a letter to the township, the Auditor’s office provided a list of information required to complete the audit.
Within 90 days of the date of the letter, the township must revise its financial records and provide the necessary data. Failure to bring accounts, records, and reports to an auditable condition may result in legal action, including the possibility of the attorney general issuing a subpoena to township officials to explain the condition of records. The attorney general may also file suit to compel the officials to prepare and/or produce the required information.
The Auditor’s Local Government Services Section (LGS) is available to township officials to assist in bringing records to an auditable condition. LGS provides a wide variety of services to local governments, including reconstructing financial records and aid in the reconciliation of books.
An entity is removed from the “unauditable” list once the audit is completed and released to the public.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.
Social networking site reveals work’ comp’ cheater
Health care worker caught working while receiving injured worker benefits
COLUMBUS — Most professionals use LinkedIn to showcase their experience, stay connected in the business community and perhaps land that dream job one day.
For Kandice M. Klink Jones of Columbus, it didn’t work out so well.
Instead, her LinkedIn profile tipped off her employer that she was working when she was supposed to be off work due to a workplace injury, an injury that was costing the employer thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation benefits. The employer asked the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to investigate, and now, following her guilty plea Monday, Jones has a felony record and a bill for $12,938 owed to her old employer, American Nursing Care Inc.
“Our investigation revealed Jones was gainfully employed with four different employers, doing the same or similar job duties as when she was injured,” said Jim Wernecke, director of BWC’s Special Investigations Department. “The evidence we obtained confirmed she intentionally misrepresented and withheld this information in order to collect benefits she would not otherwise have been entitled to.”
Besides ordering restitution, a Franklin County judge sentenced Jones, 46, to a year in jail, which she then suspended in lieu of five years of community control.
To report suspected workers’ compensation fraud, call 1-800-644-6292 or visit bwc.ohio.gov.