Arlington police arrested three men Friday for allegedly scamming an elderly resident using a common home improvement scheme.
Peter Gilheny, 21, of Quincy, was charged with malicious destruction of property over $1,200, larceny by false pretenses over $250, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and number plate violation to conceal identification.
Richard Gilheny, 18, of Randolph, and Patrick Gilheny, 18, of Quincy, were both charged with malicious destruction of property over $1,200 and larceny by false pretenses over $250.
The relationship between the suspects was not specified by the police.
Arlington police said in a news release that on Tuesday, Jan. 10, an elderly resident contacted them to say he may have been the victim of a home improvement scam.
The victim told police that three men, who were later identified as the Gilheneys, quoted him $200 to fix a small crack in his front steps, police said. The men then returned a few days later and allegedly ripped out the front steps without the victim’s permission before quoting him $6,000 for repairs.
The victim ultimately wrote a check for a portion of the total amount, which was allegedly cashed by the suspects, police said. The victim tried to get his check back, but was unsuccessful.
On Jan. 13, Arlington police contacted the suspects posing as potential customers, police said. When the three men arrived at the location given to them by the police, all three were positively identified as scammers and were arrested without incident.
At the scene, police also discovered that Peter was allegedly driving without a license, and that the vehicle’s registration plates were associated with a different vehicle, police said.
All three men were arranged in Cambridge District Court on Friday and were released on personal recognition bail.
Arlington police said in the news release that the scam the Gilheneys used is a common scam for which the elderly are often targeted.
Typically, a scammer will find a home in need of repair and offer the homeowner a very low price to fix the issue. Then, the scammer will damage the home and quote the homeowner a much higher price.
The scammer finishes by convincing the target to pay for the new repairs upfront, promising to complete the work later, but does not return to repair the house.
Tips for avoiding scams:
- Scammers may approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email, or door-to-door
- Scammers often quote potential victims’ unreasonably low prices for the services they’re offering
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations by using its home improvement contractor registration look up service
- Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked car
- Always request a copy of the contractor’s standard contract
- Ask whether the contractor will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last
- Scammers may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus materials
- Always request a business card or website for the contractor’s business
- Never pay more than one-third of the total cost of service upfront, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract
Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to any type of scam is encouraged to contact the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212, or contact their local police department.
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