LPD: Keep an Eye Out for 'Gypsy Scams'
According to the Lexington Police Department, three of this week’s calls reporting suspicious activity sounded like they could have been 'gypsy scams.' Members of the LPD offered a few red flags -- add your own scam signals using the comments box below.
If the solicited work sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, police said this week following several familiar sounding reports of suspicious activity around town.
The morning of Wednesday, Jan. 25, a Massachusetts Avenue resident reported four men came to her door offering to pave her driveway, insinuating the work would be part of a nearby town job but she’d have to pay for it.
The following morning, Thursday, Jan. 26, a Westwood Road resident reported two men came to her door claiming to be from a tree company her husband contracted to take down a few trees near powerlines in the backyard. The woman confirmed her husband did not contract the work and called the police.
Police also received a report of an individual claiming to be a town meter reader who left quickly after being asked to present identification.
According to police, each of these interactions fit the description of scams perpetuated by roaming crews more common throughout the area in warmer months.
“We don’t have any evidence to prove that’s what it is, but we’re on alert that this could be starting up,” said Lt. James Barry, a spokesman for the Lexington Police Department.
Residents also should be on alert for offers for driveway paving or sealing, yard work, tree trimming or meter-reading , according to police, who said there have been reports of similar activity in nearby towns, as well.
“Soliciting to your door should put you on alert,” said Det. Steve Garabedian. “If someone does come to your door, they should be well ID’d.”
A common rouse, according to Garabedian, is for a man to suggest coming onto the property and dropping trees in the backyard while a partner enters the house to burgle it.
There are similarities between that description and the report from Westwood Road Thursday morning.
According to the police report, at 9:47 a.m., a Westwood Road resident reported two white men came to her door claiming to be from a tree company. After the woman’s husband contradicted their claim that he hired them, she told police the men reportedly left the area in a white truck with a yellow diamond emblem on the side.
In addition to random solicitation of work, police offered a few other red flags for possible scams:
- Insistence that transactions be paid in cash
- Driveway paving or sealing work offered to be done at discounted rates with materials leftover from a nearby job
- No Identification
- If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is
- Tree work with references to power lines