Roofing scammers trying to sucker flood victims, police say

Categories: Crime, News

Big photos below.
The flooding that's swamped so many communities would seem to provide plenty of repair work for people who specialize in flooring and landscaping -- but not necessarily roofing.

According to the Wheat Ridge Police Department, though, roofing scammers are leading the pack when it comes to potentially taking advantage of flooding victims -- and the phenomenon sounds an awful lot like the terrifying attack of the hail-storm chasing roofers we documented in this space last month.

As you'll recall, the crazy hail storm that pummeled parts of southern Jefferson County on August 23 was followed by a lemming-like assault by roofers on places like my Ken-Caryl neighborhood. My front door began collecting fliers like these.....

Photo by Michael Roberts
But that was nothing compared to the entryway of house a block or so away:

Photo by Michael Roberts
Were all of the ultra-aggressive sales people who delivered these pitches crooks? Wheat Ridge Police Department spokesman Officer John Romero has his suspicions.

"Nine times out of ten, local businesses aren't going to come to your door," he says.

Romero doesn't dismiss the possibility that some homes sustained roof damage in the storms that led to Front Range flooding: "The rain was heavy, and we did have a lot of hail up here," he acknowledges. But he warns that unscrupulous operators who travel from state to state, chasing disasters, take advantage of such situations by asking for payment up-front and then split before doing any work. Moreover, there's already evidence that some people offering repairs in the metro area are less than legitimate -- and it comes from the wife of a Wheat Ridge police sergeant.

"This guy came to the door, and she said, 'Let me call my husband' -- and they didn't come around after that," he points out.

The roofers are starting to pop up more frequently today, Romero says, "now that it's finally nice outside and it's not raining anymore." He adds that "Colorado presents a huge opportunity for these scammers to pull off their craft -- and we're trying to stop them."

To that end, the WRPD has put out a warning about such schemes. Here it is:

Scammers Try to Capitalize on Flooding

As the state of Colorado begins to recover from the recent storms and flooding, the Wheat Ridge Police Department encourages Wheat Ridge community members and
business owners to be aware of potential scams. The scams most seen after disasters involving severe weather and storms involve home repair, tree trimming and asphalt improvement work. At this time, community members should be on the lookout for illegitimate roofers in particular.

"Gypsy" or "Storm Chaser" scams involve individuals who usually travel in small groups across the country perpetrating crimes of fraud, theft and burglary. These scam artists show up after a major storm causes significant damage in a community, especially after significant rain and/or hail storms.

The scammers ask for payment up front usually in cash or sometimes in the form of a check. In nearly all cases, the work is not completed or is poorly done. When the victim tries to stop payment on the check, it has already been cashed and the "contractor" is never heard from again. Most often these scammers target the elderly population.

Whenever you are approached by a person soliciting home or business repair, it is always best to not make a decision right away. Ask to see a business license. Any legitimate business will have a license. Don't enter into an agreement right away. Take the opportunity to check the Better Business Bureau to see if there is a report on the company.

If you suspect that someone is trying to scam you, you should immediately call the Wheat Ridge Police Department to report the suspicious behavior at (303) 237-2220. Get a good description of thesubject(s). Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For any questions or more crime prevention tips please contact the department's Crime Prevention Team at (303) 235-2910.

More from our News archive: "Photos: The terrifying attack of the hail-storm-chasing roofers."

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My Voice Nation Help

Really the answer is very clear. Investigate your roofer thoroughly. Check them out on the BBB, the state's licensing board, ask for their insurance, ask neighbors for recommendation. Also, make sure they've been around long enough to back up their warranties. With storms comes storm damages. The best way to insulate yourself against scams is to deal with a local provider and to take the time to do your homework.



What makes me sick is this author using the same photo's as used in a previous article and unjustly (slander?) stating that 9 out of 10 are crooks.  We live and work hard, we are BBB and Angie's A+, we do not collect money upfront, we are local, insured, highly experience in residential construction and there's a lot of other good roofing companies out too.  If we and other legitimate roofing companies are not out in the neighborhoods dropping flyers then the business all goes to the out of towner's, storm chasers, etc that the insurance companies often promote to save a buck at the homeowners peril. We do NOT door knock by our choice but understand that others do and that doesn't make them bad either (I kind of find there sales pitch when they come to my door funny since I'm kind of in the business) however that doesn't them or us bad and I'd love to see the facts on this supposed 9 out of 10 are scammer's, traveler's, etc as alluded too.  

Mr. Roberts, what's the deal with this bashing?  Were you one of those homeowners that tried to illegally pocket money and hired low bid to get a lousy job?  Were you one of those that skipped paying for real coverage thus you'll skip the claim? Maybe you were turned down by your insurer because you didn't have an experienced contractor work with your insurer to review your claim?  Are you just mad because everyone else is getting restoration work approved and your not? What's the real story behind your angst or is it all just sensational writing to get a read?  Our business is hard enough without this trumped up stories.  

There are many homeowners with real damage and they paid for insurance and deserve to have help other than from their insurance company which is not motivated to completely cover their claims (who pays their check?).  Mr. Roberts, please give your readership real advice like; interview multiple companies, call and check references and online reviews (BBB, Angie's, etc. - things happen but how did they deal with it), check that they have insurance, do they have construction experience, are they licensed (while not always required having a general contractor's or roofing license is a good indication that they must know something) and that we can not waive deductibles (so stop calling and asking).  

Things happen but its how you deal with it that matters and making homeowners fearful (there homes are ripped up and their already traumatized) can NOT be called helping out however arming them with knowledgeable I'm sure would be greatly appreciated with so many homes damaged.  

Well at least I feel better now for trying to set straight your negative bias that would lump the entire roofing industry that puts out flyers into one pooh bag.  :-)

fishingblues topcommenter

My toe hurts.  I think I'll get a haircut.

Sometimes it is hard to protect people from stupidity.  

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