Public warned about home renovation scam in Halton Region

The Halton Police have issued a warning to residents regarding a home repair fraud that is currently operating in the region.

The police said that the fraud involved contractors who approach homeowners unsolicited and offer services such as chimneys or driveway repair and interlock stonework. The contractors will provide quotes with prices lower than the market value, and upon reaching an agreement, they will request a large cash payment. Previous complaints have revealed that although initial work may commence, it is often of poor quality and left incomplete, the police warned. After the initial cost, the contractor may request additional funds for supplies or complete payment for the project. However, after receiving this extra payment, they disappear, leaving the consumer with a partially completed or damaged project. The police have received multiple complaints with similar modes of operation and suspects there may be additional victims both within and outside the region.

The police described the suspects as middle-aged white males with Irish or Scottish accents, often wearing high-visibility construction vests. The “contractors” or suspects involved in these scams are often aggressive and eager to obtain an initial cash deposit from victims. They may accompany their sales pitches with business cards, pamphlets and printed contracts.

The police shared some protection tips to help homeowners while hiring a contractor for their home repairs, including recommendations from trusted individuals, researching, ensuring the contractor is insured, obtaining multiple written estimates, checking references, being cautious of unsolicited offers, and putting all agreements on paper. The police advise the homeowners to ensure that they have a detailed contract that includes the work requested and agreed upon, start and finish dates, the exact cost of the project, and any warranty or guarantee information. They should also acquire a receipt for any payments made.

“Many homeowners are unaware of the risks of hiring contractors for home renovation projects. They may not know how to vet a contractor properly, check for proper licenses and insurance, or recognize the warning signs of a fraudulent contractor. As a result, they may fall prey to these scams and lose significant money,” said Stephen Huberd living in Milton.

Based on this information, the Halton police had also issued a warning on August 10 last year, suspecting that the suspects were targeting older adults. As part of their efforts to identify the culprits, the police described the suspects’ overall appearance. They asked for the assistance of residents to provide any relevant information that could help with the investigation.

The descriptions provided by the police include information about the age range, height, build, and hair color of the suspects, as well as the fact that one of them had a mustache. Additionally, the police noted that in both instances, a younger man claiming to be the son of one of the suspects was present.

“This fraud is common in Milton as well,” said another town resident, Gilberto Sicoli. “I’ve told my family not to let anyone unknown in. They might tell you your house needs repairing right now. Demand money and disappear.”

Home renovation fraud is a significant problem in Halton, as it is in many other regions across Canada. One of the most critical challenges in combating home renovation fraud is that these scammers often operate under the radar, using fake names and addresses and changing their business names frequently to avoid detection, which makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down and hold them accountable for their fraudulent activities.

Shazia Nazir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter

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