NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Con artists appear to be targeting elderly homeowners in sections of Queens.

The suspects convince people to get roof repairs and pay in cash — only later do residents learn the work is sub-standard.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, police in Middle Village posted signs warning residents of a door-to-door scam.

“I was scammed, yes I was definitely scammed,” Patricia Zinza said.

Zinza wishes she had never opened her door to the strangers she said skillfully wormed their way up to her roof.

“A young fella came to the door, knocked on the door, ‘we looked at your roof, you need a roof repair,” she said.

She initially said no, but the men insisted.

“You gotta do it right away, you gotta do it right away,” they told her.

“He said I’ll settle for $4,000 and nothing less,” and like a fool, I gave them a check,” she said.

Zinza is a member of the Juniper Park Civic Association, and when she told the others on her board about it, they figured she was scammed.

Jumping in to investigate was their leader Bob Holden.

“They usually target seniors between April and August of a particular year, and it’s been going on for decades,” he said.

Holden had expert roofer John Dickman double-check the work done on Zinza’s home. She thought she had paid for her roof to be completely sealed, but Dickman found no evidence of that.

“What these guys do is they go up, they merely spray the roof with a diluted aluminum roof coating,” Dickman explained.

“Really, all it was, was silver paint,” Zinza said.

There were several numbers for the first roofer, and CBS2’s Carlin tried them all, never sure if he was getting through to the right person.

Police said sometimes, scam artists steal the identities of legitimate roofers, making them difficult to track down. They said they need neighbors to help spread the word and help them stop the scam with tips to avoid getting conned.

The warnings posted on trees and power poles are a heads up for homeowners to ignore anyone knocking on doors offering roof repairs or other fix it jobs.

Top offs that the workers are not legit include vehicles with out of state plates and demanding cash payments for the work.

Another scam involves awning repairs. Con artists get money up front for the work, but never return.

 

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