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Home Repair Con Men Target Unsuspecting Raleigh Seniors

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RALEIGH — Bogus building inspectors have been on the prowl in the Triangle, police officers say. They believe they have found the imposters, but there may be many more victims.

Police say the con men ran a home improvement scam on unsuspecting elderly victims living in older homes. The fast-talking men thought one Raleigh neighborhood was easy pickings, but they were wrong.

Police say the con men pretended to be city utility workers who claimed to be checking for leaks in older homes.

"They checked the pipes and then went upstairs, and told the resident she had a leak," said Mike Hunter, with theRaleigh Police Department.

The victim was a 78-year-old woman who took the bait. Police say the suspects told the victim it would cost $1,600 to fix the leaky repairs. They wanted half of the money upfront, and said they would return later in the day for the rest.

"The history of people like this is, if a victim is susceptible to this scam, then they would come to talk with them and try to convince them to do other things to inflate the repair objectives," Hunter said.

Police say that when Dan Webb and Arthur Raper Jr. returned for the rest of their money, they got a wrist full of handcuffs instead of a fistful of cash.

"Now that I know it's going on, I am concerned," said James Coley, who has lived in the same neighborhood as the victim for close to 40 years.

Coley says when his house needs repairing, he thoroughly checks out anyone wanting the job and avoids unsolicited contractors. He says because this incident happened so close to home, he will be more alert.

"About the only thing I know to do right now is to call the police," Coley said.

Police have a few suggestions for elderly residents as well as every home owner out there:
  • Check to make sure the workers' identification is legitimate.
  • Before any work is done, ask for and check out the workers' references.
  • When in doubt, call the office of the local building inspectors or the police department.
  • Police say by making an immediate arrest and getting these two guys off the streets, they may have spared other unsuspecting elderly victims. The two men are now facing charges of obtaining property by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a crime.

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    Ken Smith, Reporter
    David Renner, Photographer
    Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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