Warm weather brought scam artists to Loudoun County over the past two months.
Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kraig Troxell said scam artists, referred to as “travelers,” target homes during the spring and summer months.
“Some of these scam artists travel with the seasons,” he said. “They move up and down the coast.”
Oftentimes, travelers target one neighborhood at a time, knocking on doors and offering home services at a reasonable price.
Usually, travelers request their money before the job is done. In these cases, the quality of work is poor.
In other cases, scam artists jack up the prices upon completion of their work.
ON FEBRUARY 9, an elderly Hillsboro couple was taken advantage of when a man came to their door to offer them gravel for their driveway. Initially the man said the job would cost the couple $150.
Upon completion, the traveler knocked on the elderly couple’s door requesting a check for $6,500. At the time, the 85-year-old woman was alone and gave him the money.
The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the incident last Thursday, when the couple’s son noticed the large withdrawal from their bank account.
The Sheriff’s Office believes the Loudoun County travelers are part of a larger group of scam artists that may have been apprehended in another part of the country.
“They were here. Then they took a break. Now they’re back,” Troxell said. “The Sheriff’s Office has some leads to this story, but nothing is solved at this point.”
In order to avoid being taken advantage of, Troxell advised residents to check companies' references before hiring them to do work.
“Get referrals from friends and family,” he said.
ANOTHER POPULAR Loudoun County scam is referred to by the Sheriff’s Office as a “flim flam” scam.
Scam artists targeted local Targets and in most cases purchased a single pack of batteries. In all cases, the scam artists purchased their small-price items from a young cashier.
“They’re looking for inexperienced workers,” Troxell said.
In a “flim flam” scam, the suspect purchases a cheap item, no more than $5, and pays with a $100 bill. When the cashier rings in the $100 to make change, the suspect diverts him with small coins.
“The suspect will say "I have exact change," just to throw them off,” he said. “The suspect’s already got him trapped.”
The suspect takes the $100 back while diverting the cashier with casual conversation and small coins. Then, he will ask for a large sum of money back, as if the cashier still has the $100 bill.
“The scam artists usually get away with $95,” Troxell said. “The cashier is left confused.”
The Sheriff’s Office is still investing the crimes.