by Corey Weir
There’s a new housing repair scam targeting the elderly community in Toronto.
The Toronto Police Service is advising the public after a scam was reported on January 13 at 5 p.m. in the Victoria Park, St. Clair Avenue area.
It involves two men that approach homes occupied by seniors.
Constable Victor Kwong, Media Relations Officer for the Toronto Police Service, explained how the process took place. “These two individuals went over to the elderly ladies home and told her that her roof needed to be repaired. The individuals than allegedly went up onto the roof to do the repairs, only problem is the roof didn’t need repairs.”
“The individuals than went with the woman to a nearby bank and took their payment that she took directly out of the ATM,” said Const. Kwong. “Scams similar to this one come back in cycles, they are called seasonal scams. This is the first scam of the winter season and this a warning to others to watch out for things like this.”
Police describe the suspects as two white males, the first being 5 foot 10, 170 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black do-rag on his head.
Police describe the second male as 5 foot 7, with a very heavy build.
Susan Eng, Vice President of Advocacy for Canadians Association for Retired Persons, otherwise known as CARP, said that scamming of the elderly is a huge issue and they are always reminding their members to stay away from any suspicious activity and don’t be afraid to say no.
“In this case it could be a widow whose husband used to handle all that kind of work and you know she isn’t going to crawl up onto the roof to inspect it so people take advantage of that fact and it’s sad,” said Eng. “A lot of these elders grow up in a trusting time and their common sense is to trust and that trust could put them in a default position.”
Constable Ryan Willmer, Crime Prevention Officer for the 23 Division of the Toronto Police Service, said this isn’t something the elderly community is used to. Most elderly people are used to a time when it was acceptable to leave your doors unlocked at night and may not be used to having to worry about being scammed.
Const. Willmer offered some advice, and said if you don’t recognize the individual at the door just don’t answer it, plain and simple, that way you avoid the initial confrontation and you don’t even give them the opportunity to talk with you.
“If in the unlikely event the individual at your door is persistent, try and get a description of the person at the door or a description of the vehicle they are driving, or even a license plate number if possible,” he said.
Police are encouraging people to be very cautious if approached for unsolicited home repairs and to call police to report any suspicions.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-4100, or call Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).