Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – Law enforcement officers in the Chapin area are warning residents of a paving scam that’s one of the oldest in memory. Although Chapin officers simply referred to this act of cheating people as simply a paving scam, in years gone by many have deemed this the “Gypsy Paver” scam.
This type of scam is very simple. Most homes are targeted for some reason based on several theories. Most have either marks in the grass or the yard that indicates someone is parking on that, or they have a gravel or dirt drive. Maybe the drive is asphalt but it’s starting to crack or break with age.
Others believe the car or cars in the drive play a part in the shyster or cheat’s choice of targets. A conservative Buick, Olds, or some other 4-door car is not usually driven by a busy urban professional. These are normally cars driven by someone raised in an era where we were a bit more trusting. However they pick their marks, these cheats are looking for someone who’s at home and sadly, this often means the senior members of our community, retired and no longer working a busy schedule.
The con begins when a person approaches the home and knocks on the door or rings the bell. The victim carefully opens the door and finds someone in work clothes, perhaps even a uniform with a company logo. They see a small dump truck that has magnetic signs with a logo on its door. They are often pulling a trailer with a small roller for compacting dirt or asphalt. So far, all this looks to be on the up and up.
The front man, a smooth talker that’s done this a thousand times before, tells the person who comes to the door they just finished paving a driveway close by. Somehow, they mis-figured the asphalt needed and had some left in the truck. If it cools to a certain point, it’s not usable anymore they tell their mark. They’ll say they have just enough to pave one more drive or repair the victim’s existing one. Because they’ll have to dispose of the asphalt if it gets any cooler, they’ll tell their prey they’d do theirs at a deeply discounted rate. The price they toss out is almost too good to be true; That’s because it is!
The victim lets them do the work at an agreed upon price and they go back inside as the work begins. In a short time, the conman returns to the door, says the work is through, and shows the drive to the mark. It looks pretty good so the victim is ready to pay. That’s when the scam begins!
For one reason or another, the job took more work or material than expected they’ll say. The smooth-talking conman says the drive is actually going to cost double what you agreed on. Although many of us would stop right here and call the police, you might be shocked how many continue falling into this trap and pay. Sometimes a little haggling goes on but the poor victim pays the price. Others refuse, stand their ground, and the conman finally takes their money. Either way, that person was just a victim of this paver scam.
How, some would ask, is there a victim if the homeowner stood their ground? In a month or so, grass begins to push through the new asphalt drive. It begins to crack and quickly falls apart. Further inspection reveals the crooks put just enough asphalt to cover the ground, rolled it out smooth, got it looking good, and made off with the victim’s money!
These crimes are hard to solve. The name of the company is fake. Oh wait, they gave their
mark a business card, well that's fake too! This homeowner has been the victim of the paving or “Gypsy Paver” scam. They shouldn't feel too bad, they are not alone in this one. There have been many people just like them that have been cheated over the years with this scam.
How does one prevent this crime? That’s easy, just say no; Don’t fall for it or be a victim! If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Never use a company that suddenly shows up at the door. Check all contractors out thoroughly. See if they have a business license if you live in a town or city. Call the police! Let them help you decide. They’ll probably have lots of questions if the pavers are even there when the cops arrive. Most likely, they'll get out of town fast and with them the homeowner’s money. Then the victim will just have to worry about paying to have that asphalt hauled away when it begins to fall apart.