For the second time this week, Arlington police charged a man for scamming a resident using a common home improvement scheme.
Jack Clarke, 23, of Boston, was charged with larceny by false pretenses over $1,200, malicious destruction of property over $1,200, conspiracy, and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
On Saturday, Jan. 14, Arlington police were contacted by a resident who believed he was the victim of a home improvement scam, Arlington police said in a news release Wednesday.
The victim police told that two men, one of whom was later identified as Clarke, quoted him $14,500 to paint his basement. When the men started their work on the victim’s basement, they destroyed part of the basement foundation and then convinced the victim to pay them $68,000 for repairs, police said.
In this case, the suspects provided the victim with what looked to be a business contract. Fake business contracts can help scammers look like a legitimate company, police said.
The victim ultimately wrote multiple checks for a portion of the full amount. These checks were allegedly cashed by Clarke, police said.
On Jan. 17, the victim alerted police that Clarke had returned to the victim’s home to collect tools and other materials he left in the victim’s basement. Police were then able to positively identify Clarke as the scammer and placed him under arrest, police said.
Through their investigation, police said, they found that Clarke was also suspected of driving without a license.
Clarke was arranged in Cambridge District Court on Tuesday and released on personal recognition bail.
On Friday, Arlington police arrested three men for using the same scam on an elderly resident.
Arlington police say that the scam used in both cases is a common scam for which the elderly are often targeted.
Typically, a scammer will find a home in need of repair and offer the homeowner a very low price to fix the issue. Then, the scammer will damage the home and quote the homeowner a much higher price.
The scammer finishes by convincing the target to pay for the new repairs upfront, promising to complete the work later, but does not return to repair the house.
Tips for avoiding scams:
- Scammers may approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email, or door-to-door
- Scammers often quote potential victims’ unreasonably low prices for the services they’re offering
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations by using its home improvement contractor registration look up service
- Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked car
- Always request a copy of the contractor’s standard contract
- Ask whether the contractor will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last
- Scammers may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus materials
- Always request a business card or website for the contractor’s business
- Never pay more than one-third of the total cost of service upfront, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract
Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to any type of scam is encouraged to contact the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212, or contact their local police department.
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