Beware of sophisticated traveling contractor scams, warns Mass. State Police – NBC Boston

With spring weather approaching, you may be thinking about some improvements you can make to your home.

However, Massachusetts State Police are warning people to be on the lookout for a sophisticated group of traveling contractors, often with ties to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The transnational plan is something NBC10 investigators have been tracking over the past year as incidents have exploded around the Commonwealth.

“Massachusetts residents are urged to take precautions to avoid becoming victims,” reads a message published by the Massachusetts State Police on the agency’s Facebook page.

According to the post, the scam can often start with old-fashioned tactics, such as showing up at a home unsolicited to ask about any repairs that need to be completed.

But as we’ve reported, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to spot warning signs as the transnational scammers step up their game with fake companies, fake websites and fake reviews.

Homeowners have told us that the traveling contractors are extremely charming and have thorough knowledge of masonry and construction work.

A Worcester County woman is warning other homeowners about how a professional encounter quickly put $20,000 down the drain.

Once people agree to have work done, the scammers continue to find more and more problems that supposedly need to be fixed.

Before long, a simple roof or driveway job will result in tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.

In some cases, victims have more damage to their homes than before the work started.

“It’s devastating because I’m a single mother,” one homeowner in Millbury told us. “I just had breast cancer. I’m just trying to pick up the pieces and they cheat me out of $20,000. That’s a lot of money for me.”

We even found an example where the scammers have taken things to the next level: posing as a real structural engineer – complete with a fabricated report on company letterhead – to make a recommendation for expensive foundation repairs seem legitimate.

Among the things state police recommend:

  • Check with your municipality whether a permit is required for work on your home
  • Read the reviews carefully. A slew of five-star posts in a short period of time could be a sign that they are probably fake
  • Make sure the company is registered as a home improvement contractor. That way, if something goes wrong, you’ll be eligible to recoup up to $10,000 in losses from a sovereign wealth fund

Some victims we spoke to never reported the crime to the police because they didn’t realize they were part of a larger scam.

Law enforcement officials have told us this is essential so they can connect the dots and track the stolen money before it is laundered abroad.