A new scam is visiting the area, known to the trade as “asphalt gypsies.”
These scammers haunt Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Colorado, Texas, New York, West Virginia, Minnesota, South Dakota and Michigan.
The people or companies vary, but the system they use rarely changes. They sell door-to-door while most reputable asphalt contractors will sometimes offer their services if they are doing a legitimate job in the immediate area.
The individual claims they have leftover asphalt from another job, offering a cut rate. This doesn’t generally happen with professional asphalt contractors, who know how much paving material is required to complete a project. Usually they will not have material left over.
The contractor will be pushy, demanding a quick decision. A reputable contractor will provide a written estimate that will be valid for weeks or months. People need to know if the deal they are offering today is not available tomorrow or next week it is most likely a scam.
No contract is offered from the workers. The consumer needs to insist upon a written contract specifying in detail, the work to be performed, the agreed upon price and the date of completion.
The person making the offer may ask for cash only. A reputable contractor will take checks or credit cards.
Deals that seem too good to be true are suspect. If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of the work and materials will also be low.
The truck may be unmarked or it might have an out-of-town or out-of-state address and phone number. A little research will reveal that they have no permanent address and the phone number is often an answering machine.
At least two people have already fallen for this scam locally. In each instance, the potential client was told that the company “had a little asphalt left over from a local job” and the company could give them a deal which would cost between $3,000 and $5,000. Later they were presented with a bill for $22,000.
A representative of Generations of Learning Center said the man who performed work for them used intimidation tactics to get paid.