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Driveway-paving scam season underway in Niagara, police warn

Police say after tearing up half the driveway, the crew left for lunch and did not return
Niagara Regional Police warn the public about fraudsters offering to fix winter-damaged driveways.

Niagara Regional Police are warning of an alarming driveway paving scam that has found its first victim of the season.

Police are warning homeowners to be wary and avoid cash deals and door-to-door solicitation.

You find more in the following NRPS news release:

As the spring season arrives, many homeowners are realizing the consequences of harsh Niagara winters on their driveways. Challenges such as cracking, raised areas, and salt-related damage frequently prompt homeowners to assess the need for driveway repair or replacement. 

The Niagara Regional Police Service has received its first report of the year regarding a driveway scam.

In a manner consistent with past occurrences, an unidentified male with a distinct accent approached a residence uninvited, offering a quote for driveway repair. Subsequently, the homeowner indicated a desire to discuss the quote with family members before arriving at a final decision.

A short time later the suspect returned with construction equipment and began to tear up the existing driveway. After tearing up half the driveway, the male suspect explained the construction crew would be leaving for lunch and return in an hour. The construction crew did not return, and the homeowner called police to report the incident.

Approximately one week later the construction crew returned and paved the driveway. The receipt showed that the homeowner received four inches of asphalt and six inches of gravel, however, generally the amount of asphalt or gravel used is completely reduced or not used at all.

Attempts to reach the suspect by phone were unsuccessful and the voicemail inbox was full. An internet query of the company website showed that the company existed, however, there was no listed owner.

In similar instances, the suspect claims to have extra asphalt and offers to do the work at a reduced rate. The suspect and homeowner will negotiate a low-priced quote. The suspect will then ask the homeowner for a large cash down payment. Initial work starts quickly, however, the work will be sub-par or incomplete.

Once payment is received the suspect is usually never heard from again. Phone calls go unanswered, and the homeowner will be left with a damaged driveway or a partially completed project.

The Niagara Regional Police Service provides the following information to consumers to assist them when considering hiring a contractor for their home.

Consumer Protection Tips When Hiring a Home Contractor

  • Get recommendations from people you trust.
  • Prior to initiating work ensure the contractor is insured.
  • Get multiple written estimates.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
  • Check references of past jobs.
  • Be leery of unsolicited offers via the phone, or door to door.
  • Understand the scope of the work – If you hire a scammer and they do damage to City property, you could be held civilly responsible for its repair.
  • Take pictures – Before, during and after.  If suspicious, also consider photos of contractor vehicles and licence plates

Put it on Paper

  • Work requested and agreed upon.
  • Dates – Start and Finish.
  • Exact cost of the project.
  • Payment Schedule – 10% deposit at the start, final full amount upon satisfactory completion of agreed upon work.
  • Demand a receipt.
  • Demand guarantee / warranty information.

For further Information reference Consumer Protection Ontario or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre