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OYS: Home Repair Scams Revving Up For Summer

7:07 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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Lexington, SC (WLTX) -- The Lexington County Sheriff's office is warning elderly residents to be on the lookout for what they're calling a rash of scams.

According to the Sheriff's Department, they're called Irish Travelers because they usually introduce themselves with names close to the Irish heritage. 

Many of them have told their 'customers' they're from North Augusta, Georgia, the Sheriff's office said. 

According to the Sheriff's office, they operate in large groups, spreading themselves across large geographical areas, and prey on the elderly because they are usually the types of people who look to repair their home during summer months after emerging from months of fall and winter weather damage to property. 

News19 met just one of those people. 

Gene Jeffcoat, an 85-year-old retired mail carrier and U.S. Navy veteran, met a man who introduced himself as Mike Sherlock. He offered to fix the cracks in his driveway for $1,500. 

Jeffcoat said he trusted the man because he said he could accomplish the work at a fraction of the price a professional contractor could. 

"Irish Travelers tend to go to neighborhoods and homes where they know that senior citizens live,' said Maj. John Allard, Public Information Officer at the Lexington County Sheriff's Department. "They often will offer to make relatively inexpensive repairs, such as resurfacing a driveway."

Jeffcoat said he was approached on April 25, 2013 by Sherlock who offered to repair cracks in his driveway. He gave the man $1,500 after Sherlock promised he would return the following money to complete the entirety of the work. Jeffcoat hasn't been able to get in contact with him since then, despite calling him between 30 and 40 times, he said. 

Jeffcoat also said Sherlock only sprayed some type of "black chemical" onto his driveway, temporarily filling the holes. But days later, he said, the wind blew it all away. 

Leonard Herlong, Jeffcoat's friend of 40-years, said a similar story happened to him. 

In his case, the mans name was Eddie Caroll. He was told his roof would be repaired. The Lexington Sheriff's Department said Herlong put a 'stop payment' order on the check he issued to Caroll, though Herlong has said he lost $900 to Sherlock as a result of the scam. 

Jim Camp, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau's South Carolina Central and Charleston division also said the elderly are the primary targets of the individuals running these types of scams. 

He said people should be on the lookout for anyone offering services at a premium. 

"I used to say if its too good to be true, it probably is," Camp said, "but now I just take out the probably. 

News19 will continue to update the public on these issues. 

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