MAHONING COUNTY Police warn: Beware of driveway paving scam
Austintown police say the suspects may return this week to a local motel.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Just as the buzzards return each year to Hinckley, fly-by-night "paving contractors" land in towns throughout the country every summer to scam unsuspecting homeowners.
The line they give is a classic: "We're doing paving work in the area and have [or will have] some asphalt left over -- you want your driveway done for a discount price?"
Sometimes, they quote a price -- say $1,000 -- and ask for half the money up front, get it and never return. Other times, they collect on the spot and lay down a substance that, for a few minutes, passes as asphalt.
A variation of the scam happened a week ago to a woman on East Delason Avenue. She told police that a red-and-white dump truck -- with no company markings -- pulled up in front of her home at 10:30 a.m. that Tuesday.
The two men, one named Joe, said they worked for Quality Paving and had some extra asphalt. They measured the woman's driveway and gave her a price of $1,200.
The price sounded good, but she didn't get paid until the following day, July 3, and didn't want it to be done until then. The guy named Joe told her that his father owned Quality Paving and asked that she sign a contract.
The contract had no letterhead and Joe kept all copies. He called her later that day to say that her job was the smallest, so they'd do it first thing the next morning.
What happened next
As promised, the men returned July 3, expecting to be paid. This time, there were three of them and two red-and-white dump trucks. To their surprise, the Delason woman had changed her mind. She didn't want her driveway to be paved after all.
This didn't go over well. One of the men started yelling profanities and reminded her about the signed contract.
He griped about having all the equipment there to do the job, took off his shirt and acted like he was going to fight the lady who changed her mind.
Lt. Mark Durkin of the Austintown Police Department reminds that people have 72 hours after signing a contract to change their mind.
Back to the guy with his shirt off.
"Get the hell off my porch -- or else," the now-irate homeowner told the shirtless guy. He complied.
The woman didn't let it go at that.
She called Quality Paving in Austintown. It turns out the men were impostors, using the Quality name to get jobs. Durkin said Youngstown and Austintown detectives are working on the case. Youngstown Detective Sgt. Tony Longmire said the report is the first he's seen this summer. Durkin said sometimes people are too embarrassed to report that they've been ripped off.
One lead police followed is the phone number that showed up on the Delason woman's Caller ID the night Joe called to say hers was the smallest job and she'd be first.
The call came from Motel 6 on Seventy-Six Drive in Austintown, near the truck stops and Interstate 80.
Austintown police learned that at least three men from West Virginia, who match descriptions given by the Delason woman, did stay at the motel and are expected back this week, Durkin said. Police are ready if they return.
What you should do
Durkin has some advice for anyone contemplating having work done by men who pop in unannounced and just happen to possess extra asphalt: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Durkin suggests you ask the pop-in pavers for their company's name and phone number and tell them you'll call while they stand by.
If they're legitimate, they'll wait while you make the call, even if you decide to call police, he said. If not, what you'll see is them leaving your neighborhood, the lieutenant said.