Homeowners across the Tri-state and beyond have filed a trail of home improvement fraud complaints in the last few months about contractors who go door-to-door looking to pave your driveway.
Law enforcement officials say you should be extremely careful about high-pressure sales pitches from door-to-door contractors.
"A reputable company is not going to go door-to-door asking to pave driveways,” Muskingum County Sheriff's Office Detective Randy Wilson said. "And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
These door-to-door contractors rely on high-pressure, on-the-spot decision-making, Wilson said. Reliable companies will allow you ample time to think about the work or get a second estimate.
“The elderly are the most vulnerable," Wilson said. "A lot of times it goes unreported because they feel embarrassed.”
Wilson said the "traveling pavers” extend far beyond the Tri-State.
"Typically they look at elderly victims, and they always start off the conversation, ‘Hey, I've got some asphalt leftover from a previous job, and I will cut you a deal on the work,'" Wilson said.
After deputies put a warning in the local newspaper in 2013, about 32 new paving-related complaints opened up in the Zanesville area alone, Wilson said.
Tips to avoid contractor issues
- Don’t be bullied or pressured; call 911 if a contractor shows up and won’t leave your property
- Get at least two estimates from contractors who haven’t solicited business by going door-to-door.
- Check references by calling the Better Business Bureau
Source: The American Bar Association
Checking out a contractor can be crucial.
A Warren County woman filed a non-criminal complaint against James Boswell from Butler County. She told deputies she paid Boswell $6,800 in June to re-seal her driveway. The 82-year-old wasn’t happy with the work, according to the complaint. Deputies determined the case was a civil matter because Boswell completed the work.
Boswell has faced complaints about his work at least two other times. He was convicted in 2013 for felony theft by deception and knowingly exploiting an adult. A Louisville Metro Police spokesman told the I-Team those charges involved chimney work he did for a homeowner. He was released from post-prison supervision in March and showed up to try to get paving work at the elderly woman’s house in Warren County in June.
According to Bullitt County, Kentucky Sheriff Captain Mike Murdoch, Boswell settled a complaint last month with a woman in that county. The case stemmed from criminal charges filed in 2011 over a paving job he did at her home. Those charges were dropped when Boswell paid the settlement, Murdoch said.
A Butler County grand jury indicted him last month and charged him with “theft from a person in a protected class." Court records aren’t clear if this particular charge is related to home improvement work.
Web Editor Marais Jacon-Duffy contributed to this report