BELLEVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police in a New Jersey town are warning residents about what they say is a scam for water filters.
It’s happening in Belleville, which uses the same tap water from Newark, which has been plagued by concerns about lead in its water, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Monday.
Surveillance video shows a woman claiming to be a water technician approaching a home on Springer Street in Belleville. In Spanish, the woman says she’s with a company called Community Water Check, working in collaboration with the city. She shows her business card and is allowed inside to test the tape water.
Little did she know, two undercover police officers were also in the home, watching.
“She set up three test jars, and she puts drops in each test jar,” said Lt. John McAloon of the Belleville Police. “About 15 minutes later, she says, ‘Oh, you have high lead.'”
Police say the woman, identified as Vilma Bido, said the remedy is a filtration system.
“And the cost of that was $20,000. But she ensured the homeowner that the town would reimburse that the town would reimburse the homeowner $5,000 to offest the cost,” McAloon said.
“Absolutely not. The township has no backing behind this,” said Belleville Mayor Michael Melham. “They are more than likely targeting or preying on the Hispanic speaking community, and mostly that’s because inherently in that community they’re less likely to call Town Hall and ask a question.”
Melham said he wants residents to beware.
Melham says he’s also received calls from homeowners about a salesperson from the company, seen on video, wearing what looks like a government ID, claiming he sent her. One resident told Rozner the lady left a yellow notice on her door to make an appointment.
“Off the bat, I was like, this doesn’t look legit. We shouldn’t pay attention to it,” a woman named Mercedes said.
But a man who says he is a co-owner of Community Water Check told Rozner by phone that no one from his company ever claimed to be affiliated with the town. Wilson Delahoz told Rozner the company was legitimate, and had been around eight year. He says the technician who claimed she was working with the city needs to be retrained.
“Nobody should be ringing your doorbell that doesn’t have a solicitor permit that doesn’t have ID on them,” Melham said.
The company’s co-owner claims he didn’t know you needed to apply for one, but police say the company does not have a New Jersey business license and is not capable of testing for lead. So if you see solicitors, give them a call.
Police say the technician was issued a summons for soliciting without a permit. She’s due in court Wednesday.