Canada: 'I felt like a damn fool': He fell prey to the paving scammers with Irish accents - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada 'I felt like a damn fool': He fell prey to the paving scammers with Irish accents

19:40  28 october  2019
19:40  28 october  2019 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Theodore can’t believe he fell for it. The 90-year-old Pierrefonds resident was the victim of a driveway paving scheme that roped in many West Islanders last month.

His trusting nature cost him $3,500. For weeks, he didn’t even want to talk about it, until his daughter convinced him his story could help others avoid the same ruse.

Last Thursday, Montreal police issued photos of six men, age 25 to 45, who went around the West Island last month wearing orange vests and suckering residents with a scam that sounded all too familiar to Theodore. What’s more, he recognized at least two of the suspects, and the fact that the police said they had Irish accents.

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He asked that his real name not be used.

Theodore was home with his wife on Tuesday, Sept. 10 when he heard a knock at the door. He looked out his window and saw a red truck with ladders on top, idling in the street. When he opened the door, a friendly man — whom he believes is Suspect No. 6 on the police bulletin — started talking.

“This fellow came up to the door and he said they were working on a house a few streets away, doing the driveway, and had all the equipment and could do (our place) as soon as they finished,” Theodore said.

“He was a very convincing sales guy, with a defined Irish accent — a very pleasant sort of character.”

Theodore said he wasn’t interested, but the man kept talking.

“He said, ‘I’ll give you a good deal — $4,000 or $5,000.’ I said, ‘No, that’s too damn much.’ ”

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But Theodore’s driveway did need repairs. Eventually, he talked the man down to $1,500 and the work began.

The men started sweeping the driveway. They asked for the garden hose to be connected so they could water down the pavement, which they did.

“There were four guys there, all looking pretty busy,” Theodore said.

Soon after, a man who acted like the boss — Theodore identified him as Suspect No. 3 — appeared at the door to say they needed more materials to finish the job. And oh, the price had now gone up to $3,500. They asked Theodore to go to the bank to get the money.

“That’s where I was very stupid, of course,” he said. “It was like they put me under a spell. I went and got the cash and gave it to them, and went inside the house.”

For a short while, the men were back at work and seemingly very busy. Next thing Theodore knew, he looked out and they were gone.

“I still don’t know what happened that day,” he said. “I don’t sign up with characters who show up at the door, but the thing was I knew my driveway needed repairs. I had been thinking about repairs the last couple of years, but hadn’t got around to it.”

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Many weeks later, he still cringes to think about it.

“I felt like a damn fool, of course,” he said. “When I looked outside and saw no one, I realized I really had been taken for a ride.”

Theodore filed an event report with police a few days later, but has had no news since.

Police could not confirm whether the crew had any connection to a group of four foreign nationals with Irish accents who were apprehended for a similar scheme in the Ottawa area in 2016 and were subsequently deported. A total of $70,000 in cash was seized in that case, after investigators from the Canada Border Services Agency and Ottawa’s police fraud unit teamed up to make the arrests for working without a permit and, in one case, working with an expired permit.

It was also unconfirmed whether the group is connected to similar recent paving scams across the country in towns including Kitchener, Cambridge, Richmond Hill and South Simcoe, Ont., as well as Grande Prairie, Alta., and Surrey, B.C. Again, victims often noted the Irish accents.

A police spokesperson warned Montreal residents to verify workers’ credentials with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec before agreeing to any work; check references on the internet; see if a contractor has done previous jobs; and finally, that minimum deposits are OK, but to never make a full payment before the work is done.

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Anyone with information regarding the suspects is asked to call 911, or to communicate anonymously via Info-Crime at 514-393-1133.

tdunlevy@postmedia.com

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