EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Getting swindled out of your hard earned cash is something one couple who lives in El Paso had to find out the hard way.
According to Sergeant Javier Sambrano with the El Paso Police Department, scams happen every day, through many different avenues and anyone can be a target.
“I think everybody is susceptible to that, there is a lot of different ways scams can happen now. We have electronic ways so it can be done through emails or people can be offering services or goods. Especially right now we had some areas that were hit by hail so we had a lot of different roofing, home improvement companies that are offering services. Some of these individuals are legitimate and some may be trying to take advantage of you.”
Which is exactly what happened to Dolores and Francisco Barrio. They needed repairs done to a leaking roof so when a contractor approached Mrs. Barrio in Memorial Park, she jumped at the opportunity to get the work done.
“He gave me his card. I said oh good you do roofs, we’re having problems with our roof. He said he could come over and check it, and I said oh great that would be good.”
The contractor Mrs. Barrio calls Raul came over the very same day.
The Barrios said that the man told them he was a Vietnam Vet, went to church in the area and worked for the government, so they trusted him when he asked for the money up front.
“He even offered a contract for Frank to sign and he said oh no no,” Mrs. Barrio said, “That was enough for us to feel confident in him, just the way he was with us, that was a big mistake.”
The minute the contractor started the work, they knew something was wrong.
“I saw him putting the gutter and I said when is he going to fix the roof? He’s going to have to take everything off to fix that. This isn’t right he’s not doing what he is supposed to be doing”
The Barrios said that the roof was never fixed, and still leaks. In addition, the contractor put up gutters on two side of the house, but did not put them up correctly,
“He didn’t seal the leaks, nothing, he just hang up the things and took off,” they said. So they said they paid out $2,500 in cash to have two gutters partially put up on the house.
Mrs. Barrio said she contacted the police, and filed a report hoping that something can be done.
“Detective Gonzales said that they are going to try to do something but can’t guarantee that we’ll get our money back.”
Mrs. Barrio said they’ve learned their lesson,
“I will never trust somebody like that again and if they ask for money up front forget it they’re out of a job, they’re not getting a penny!”
Sergeant Javier Sambrano said that the most important thing to remember when hiring a home contractor is to do your research.
“When were talking about home contractors it is important to do your background, ask for references call people, find out what work they’ve done. Go and see the places that they say they’ve done and find out from those people who hired them and see if they had any problems.”
He also said to watch out for red flags like people who can’t give references or those that promise an unbelievable bargain because if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Srgt. Sambrano said that if you think you’ve been swindled, call the non-emergency police line.