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Spring time brings old scams

Handyman frauds arrive with nicer weather

So far it’s only been happening in the Comox Valley, but Oak Bay Police is warning about scams targeting seniors. In two recent incidents, Comox Valley seniors were defrauded of thousands of dollars by men posing as handymen or town officials.

Seniors are the likeliest targets for home improvement fraudsters, Oak Bay police said. “Since they’re retired, they are mostly home during the day. They answer their phones, read their mail and are often too polite to negotiate price. Some are alone and more willing to talk to strangers,” Oak Bay’s police chief Mark Fisher pointed out.

In one Comox case, a woman gave $4,000 to a man for work he supposedly completed around the house, jobs that were never done. The man went so far as to drive the senior to the bank to withdraw cash. In the second incident a senior was defrauded of $500 by a man posing as a public employee who said repairs were necessary on her property.

Although contractors knocking on your door can be legitimate, Oak Bay Police say there are steps to take before signing up for work. Get a second estimate from another contractor or ask a friend or family member to look at the contract. Ask for references and never sign anything on the spot or pay upfront.

Although scammers haven’t hit Oak Bay yet, Deputy-Chief Kent Thom said an older scam recirculated recently when a senior was called by someone claiming to be a relative asking for cash.

“Seniors are big-time targets for fraudsters,” he said.