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Image via Pixabay
Image via Pixabay

With warmer weather finally approaching, a local City Council member and the 104th Precinct are warning residents that it’s the season for roofing scams that have reportedly affected Middle Village and Maspeth for many years.

While serving as the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) in previous years, Councilman Robert Holden said he witnessed roofing companies take advantage of vulnerable citizens and charge them thousands for work that was poorly done or not even necessary in the first place.

One of the main warning signs that a roofer may be running a scam is door-to-door solicitation, Holden said in a press release last week.

“They knock on the door, usually after a storm or something, and tell people they have roof damage,” Holden said. “These scammers then propose to fix the roof for a flat rate, offering fake discounts for those willing to pay cash up front.”

Once the scammers convince the victim that the repairs are necessary they often fail to do the work that was promised, Holden said. For example, the roofers “spray what looks like silver spray-paint on the roof and leave after 20 minutes,” Holden said, when they have offered to seal the roof with aluminum asphalt.

Holden also provided invoices from 2016 from people who claim to have been ripped off and said that victims of the scams are charged anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. The invoices are from C. Johnston Roofing, which Holden accused as one of the main culprits.

When reached over the phone on April 16, however, a spokesperson for C. Johnston Roofing denied the allegations, saying the Manhattan-based company “doesn’t even work in that area,” and it “doesn’t have a complaint, and never did.”

Nevertheless, the spokesperson did acknowledge the existence of such scams across the city, and reports of it harm the business.

The individuals involved in the leaking roof scam tend to target the elderly, according to Holden and Detective Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit. The precinct is taking preventative measures.

Bell said that officers from the precinct will be in Middle Village and Maspeth this week to alert the public of the supposed scams, and there is a detective running point on the majority of the investigations into these incidents.

In 2017, reports from CBS and NBC featured victims of supposed scams in Maspeth and Middle Village, and Holden was there to advocate for them as JPCA president.

“We need to catch them in the act,” Holden said. “But for now, the best we can do is to make everyone aware so they know not to pay these scammers for faulty work.”

The press release also urges anyone who believes they have encountered scammers to contact James Fleming with 104th Precinct at 718-386-2591.

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