Police warning about travelling scam artists

By Morinville News Staff

The Morinville RCMP are warning Sturgeon County residents to be on the lookout for home improvement scams this spring and summer. These travelling con artists masquerade as skilled trades workers but are anything but.

The conning contractors are known to work small rural communities surrounding Edmonton in the spring and summer each year. The scams often involve paving, painting, roofing, rain gutters, chimney repair and other home renovations. The scammers will typically tell the homeowner they can do the work at a reduced rate.

In a May 28 press release, Morinville RCMP Constable Yelena Avoine said the Detachment received several complaints about the home repair schemes of travelling scammers in 2012.

The Detachment is expecting more of the same this season and reminding residents the work may be of poor quality and consumers could end up paying more still to fix the shoddy work. Seniors are often targeted and pressured into hiring these groups and the travellers are known to aggressively, approach their victims until they have received as much money as the scam artist feels they can get from their victim.

Tactics of the travelling scammers include being offered a special price because they just happen to be doing work in the area, quoting a price without first seeing the job, demanding a large down payment for materials, and providing no business identification.

Licences required

Town of Morinville Permit Clerk and Business License Inspector Karen Strawson said residents should be asking anyone doing work for them to show their business licence, something the Town requires of anyone doing business in the community.

“Anyone who is conducting business within the Town of Morinville for the purpose of earning an income is required to have a valid business licence for the Town of Morinville,” Strawson said, adding it is common to hear contractors say they hold a St. Albert of Edmonton business licence. “The Town of Morinville chooses to have people have business licenses.”

Strawson said revisions to the business licence bylaw have made it possible for legitimate out-of-town contractors doing a single job in town to buy a temporary license to conduct that work. “We are trying to work with people so that instead of paying a $200 non-resident licence, we have a temporary non-resident license that is $75,” she said. “We are trying to work with the trades so that it is not breaking everybody’s back. But we feel if our businesses within town are required to apply for a business licence, it is only fair that those people that are coming from other areas also have to adhere to the same rules.”

Residents approached by suspicious travelling tradesmen offering to do work for them are asked to are asked to call the Morinville RCMP at 780-939-4550.

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