Ray Hall of Little, Okla., said he and his wife are thankful their bank account is intact after nearly being scammed by what authorities are calling “gypsy pavers.”
Hall said he was approached by the alleged scammers Tuesday evening. They claimed their construction company was out of Ada.
“He said ‘we’ve been blacktopping down here on (state Highway 9A) and we had some blacktop left over and we’ve got to get it off our truck and we’d really make a good deal on it,’ ” Hall said. “He told me 'for your driveway, it’d be $136 probably.’ ”
Hall agreed and said the men didn’t use asphalt but ground-up blacktop used to underlay asphalt roads. Hall said for the price he was quoted a switch in materials wasn’t a problem.
The men finished the job after dark and asked Hall if they could leave their equipment overnight and get it in the morning when they returned for payment.
“He came up and measured the driveway and told me ‘that’ll be $2,797,’ ” Hall said. “I said how much? He told me again and I said, ‘Bologna.’ ”
When Hall questioned the price, the man told him he meant $136 per square foot and that Hall had misunderstood. Hall reluctantly wrote the man a check and called the sheriff’s department. Hall put a stop payment on the check and a sheriff’s deputy escorted the men out of the county. Hall said the men had Nebraska license plates.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer said his department had trouble with the men in Pottawatomie County as well. He told Channel 9 News he caught the so-called “contractors” at Sacred Heart Church near Konawa.
“They don’t care who they take advantage of,” Palmer said. “You sink into it (the paving). Not only is the church out the money but (it) will cost more money to ... fix this.”
The sheriff’s department issued a release on its Facebook page stating deputies checked a complaint about some possible workers and, upon contacting them, found they offered to “donate” a parking lot job they had started.
“It’s a tell-tale sign when they’re willing to donate,” Palmer said. Since “no money ever changed hands,” no criminal offense was committed.
Palmer said potential scammers like these could come around any time of year but may be more active now because of the Christmas holiday.
“These people are doing this to get Christmas money ... instead of stealing by breaking into homes,” he said.
In addition to offering paving work, sometimes these “gypsy” scams involve roof work or repairs, Palmer said.
If residents hire someone or a company for any type of work, authorities suggest having written estimates or contracts. Palmer also said it’s a good idea for residents to contact the Better Business Bureau before hand to check out a company thoroughly.
Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian agreed and said residents should ask for references and even call his department to inquire whether or not the company is legitimate.
Christian said he recently noticed such workers at local motels. He stopped and took pictures of the vehicles and copied their vehicle information in case he received any complaints. He said the people usually victimize somebody, cash a check and leave town quickly.