Beware of chimney scammers

Several local residents have recently complained of a fraudulent company going door to door offering to repair and clean chimneys and turn on furnaces.
There have been three formal complaints filed with Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office, and there have also been several other instances within the Ozone Park area.
These offers, from a company called Brooklyn Union Maintenance, have been unsolicited. Following the inspection, homeowners are being told they will be reported to the authorities for violations if they don’t agree to pay $1,800 or more for repairs. None of the official complaints have indicated they paid any money.
Mattie McCallum, a South Jamaica resident, did pay $100 to them around two months ago. “They called and said they were doing chimney checks,” she said.
“They said there was a rip in the lining of my chimney that would cost $3,000 to fix,” she said. “They also said I needed to pay $100 for that day’s work, but they told me to make it out to cash. That’s when I got suspicious.”
The company uses a name similar to the former Brooklyn Union Gas Company that merged with the Long Island Lighting Company to become KeySpan in hopes of confusing residents.
The number listed for the company was not in service when contacted.
Scott Jordan, a member of Community Board 9, which covers the Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park neighborhoods, said that he has had many residents, mostly older, come up to him and say they also have been approached by the company.
The scam surfaced in the area about six months ago.
“Two men will ring a homeowner’s bell; if they are let in they’ll check their furnace and chimneys,” Jordan said. “They then tell the homeowners that they need repairs.”
If they don’t agree to the first price quoted, Jordan explained, they say they may be able to give them “a discount,” but if they do not pay they will report them to the authorities.
According to Jordan, some of the residents he spoke with have paid.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has also registered six complaints against this company in the past 12 months. Mail sent to the address on record for the company by the BBB was returned by the post office.
A National Grid representative confirmed that this company is not associated with them. They also urged customers to always ask for identification before letting anyone into their house as National Grid workers always carry company photo identification.
The complaints have been passed on to the Consumer Affairs, the local authorities and community boards.
Jordan summed up the feelings of many local residents by saying, “They are con artists, period.”

More from Around New York