‘Asphalt bandits’ under investigation in Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Morgantown police are investigating at least two reports of scammers posing as asphalt/concrete workers in the South Park neighborhood.

In one case, a family on Ash Street was given a quote of $400 to complete work at their home with materials that were leftover from another project. When the work was finished the crew increased the price to $650 and demanded the family go to the bank to get the cash.

The Morgantown Police Department released the following information via social media:

We are aware of the current complaints regarding fraudulent asphalt construction work and forced payment. We advise that if anyone is approached by a person soliciting potentially fraudulent work, they should contact the #Morgantown Police Department’s TIPS Line to make an anonymous tip at 304-284-7520.

Director of External Communications for the Better Business Bureau Kim Taylor advises to never make quick decisions or verbal-only agreements for work that could require a warranty. According to Taylor, doing cash business leaves the consumer with very little leverage if the deal goes bad.
When paying for work completed never use pre-paid debit cards and always make sure the check is made out to a licensed company. Never hesitate to ask for identification and work references.

“Who they’re making the check out to- if it’s not a company name, but a person’s name- that’s a red flag,” Taylor said,” If they show up at the door and there’s not a company name on the truck.”

The scammers are most successful when they can reduce the timetable allowed for a potential customer to make a decision. For that reason, officials recommend talking to a trusted friend or family member before making an agreement to have work done.

“There’s a reason we have that little voice in the back of our head saying,” something is not right and we definitely want to take a step back and slow things down,” Taylor said,” Because things are starting to add up as a negative and not a positive.”

Unsolicited offers should be vetted thoroughly. Scammers can tell residents they are “just in the area” or “have just enough leftover material” to complete a job on your property. These deals are done in writing and that gives the property owner little to contest if the job doesn’t turnout consistent with what was verbally offered.

“Be wary of any unsolicited offers,” Taylor said,” Anytime you get an unsolicited email, phone call or someone knocking on your door- it was unsolicited and they came to you,” Taylor explained,” You never want to make that rash decision right away.”

The Better Business Bureau always recommend to make decisions about contracting work very carefully. Obtaining a second price from a different contractor could raise legitimate issues about the initial proposal. Waiting and getting a second price can prevent buyer’s remorse.

“Verify everything they said and do your own research the next day. Never make a decision the same day,” Taylor said,” A legitimate company is going to give you plenty of time to make that decision.”

The Better Business Bureau offers tools to search complaints that have been filed against businesses and even offer reviews from customers that have used that service.

“If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is,” Taylor said,” So, it warrants taking that step back and thinking it out and asking if it makes sense.”