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Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS
Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS

In Captain John Mastronardi’s first official 104th Precinct Community Council (104PCC) meeting as head of the precinct, the new commanding officer warned local residents of a scammer from a construction company who has been targeting the elderly in Middle Village.

According to Mastronardi, an individual with an Irish brogue has been going door-to-door in the Middle Village area in a white or green construction van, possibly with the name “Johnson” emblazoned on the side, and offering to fix people’s roofs.

This scammer has been known to forcefully ask residents — usually the elderly or retired individuals — if they would like him to fix their roofs, claiming he can get the work done in only a few hours, but he demands the money upfront.

In some instances, Mastronardi said, the individual even offered to bring his victims to an ATM to take out the money.

“Honestly, they think the person is in good standing because he’s mentioning people around the neighborhood whose houses he’s actually assisting,” Mastronardi said. “He’ll show them the names of the people he’s actually helped, so to speak. And then people are confident in him and allow him to fix the roof.”

Detective Thomas Bell from the precinct’s Community Affairs team added that this individual is trying to solicit business going door-to-door; he is not being called into the area for work. Bell told attendees that if this happens, to just be aware and never give out information without vetting the company first.

“They’re really quick when they talk, so you’ve got to be aware of that,” Bell said. “These guys are really quick talkers and they’re professionals at what they do. It sounds legit when you’re talking to them, but when you realize you’ve been fleeced later on in the day, because then you think about it and you go, ‘Wait a minute, that didn’t sound right,’ or what have you.”

In order to prevent this individual from scamming anyone else, Mastronardi and his officers are spreading awareness around the communities and on social media.

“What my good crime prevention officers have been doing is been blanketing the area with flyers, visiting elderly people and telling them just to be careful,” Mastronardi said.

 

He also remarked that if anyone happens to see a van with the name “Johnson” on it, to get a very good description of the vehicle, try to get the license plate number, and call the precinct.

The 104PCC also honored former commanding officer Deputy Inspector Mark Wachter with a plaque of recognition for this two years of service to the communities.

“The 104th Precinct Community Council is still a growing civic and we need the support of the commanding officers, we need the support of community affairs, and we’re here for them,” said Len Santoro, president of the 104PCC. “So it really helps when we have that symbiotic relationship with them and us, and the community. I think Deputy Inspector Wachter definitely took that to another level.”

The Council also presented the “Cop of the Month” award to two officers for a recent arrest that closed seven open cases in the precinct.

Detective Edwin Diaz and Officer Shuyi Lin arrested an individual that was responsible for seven car break-ins across the precinct.

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