Dear PoPville – Scam Alert

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

Dear PoPville,

Got scammed yesterday, swindled, by a flim-flam man . . . for 30 big ones! I live in a standard DC rowhouse. Hatch to the roof is covered so it is tough to get up there without a really tall ladder. There’s a guy going around the neighborhood saying he’s got a guy working up on the roof who looked down at my place and saw that the gutters are clogged with birdsnest, a tennis ball (some kid most have thrown it up there), and walnuts (squirrels carry them up and forget them . . .). His guy will clean my gutter while he’s up there for 30 bucks. He starts naming all of my neighbors saying who he has done work for, including my next door neighbors who have totally been around the block, and one that he’s repairing a skylight for, so he can go up through their hatch and then walk over to my roof easily. Sure, ok, they’ve never been cleaned and hard to beat 30 bucks for anything.

The guy himself gets up on top of the porch roof and picks off a couple of leaves to show he’s earnest. His guy will do the upper roof between jobs. He comes back 30 minutes later and says his guy is done. I pay him, and give him an extra couple of bucks . . . then think, hey, I never even saw a guy on the roof. I ask where he threw the junk and birdsnest. “He bagged it.” Really, and carried it through those people’s house? Where is he now? “He’s working inside on the skylight.” I want to meet him. “I’m not going to interrupt his work just to make you feel better. I’ll bring him by later and then you’ll feel guilty.” Well, just call him and get him to wave to me from the roof. “My cell phone fell in some water last week. You can go up on your roof and inspect it if you don’t trust me.” Of course, if I could get up on my roof I wouldn’t have hired him . . .

I talked to my neighbors. No one has seen the mysterious other guy on the roof. One neighbor asked him for a business card. “Just ordered some, they’re on the way.” Can I see your ID? “Here’s a credit card.” Then he half pulls out a driver’s license and walks away.

He’s no Sawyer (in intellect, hotness, or nick-naming) but it’s kinda brilliant. Low cost so your guard is down. He’s right there, but there’s no way to check his work. 30 bucks isn’t a bad deal for a good learning experience . . . but save your people the cost.

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