Harris Street resident scammed

Published 3:43 pm Monday, February 16, 2004

By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
Two men took advantage of an elderly Atmore woman Wednesday, making off with $2,000.
The woman, whose name was not release by police, lives on the 100 block of Harris Street in Atmore. She was reported to be 75 years old. The block is bordered by the A.O.H. Church of God and Turner Funeral Home.
According to police, three men operating a cement truck came to the woman's door offering her a "good deal" on concrete for her driveway. The men told her she needed the work done.
At first the lady refused, but the men continued their hard sell tactics, including trying to get into the woman's home, said Chuck Brooks, an investigator with the Atmore Police Department.
The suspects told they already had the concrete on the truck, and she would be getting a special deal as long as she told no one.
She agreed to pay the men for the work and paid them $2,000 in cash to start, and went to the bank to get another $7,500 for the job.
When she returned, a neighbor started questioning the men about their work. They jumped in the cement truck and left the area.
Police are still investigating the incident.
Brooks said it is a sad story that the elderly are preyed on in such a manner. He offers the following tips for anyone who is approached by people offering to perform home improvements.
"If you are approached, and you have any questions about the people offering to do work for you, you can contact law enforcement," Brooks said.
"People, especially the elderly, shouldn't keep large amounts of cash at home. Investigate the people wanting to do work for you first and make sure they are a reliable contractor," Brooks said.
The fine for operating in the city limits without a business license is $250 plus $190 court costs. The suspects in this scam can be subject to criminal prosecution.
The National Association of Remodeling Industry offers the following warning signs to help avoid home improvement scammers. Don't agree to do business if you find the following.
* If you can't verify the name, address and telephone number of the people offering the work.
* The salesperson promises a special deal, but only if you sign a contract or agree to buy "today."
* No references are furnished.
* You are unable to verify the business license or insurance information.
* You are asked to pay the entire amount up front or pay by cash.

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