Scammer targets elderly, then uses strong-arm tactics
By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor
August 22, 2008 - A sheriff's investigator is warning county residents, especially the elderly to watch out for a large man offering to repave driveways, saying he inflates his quoted price then used strong-arm tactics to induce payment.
Hopkins County Sheriff's Investigator Lewis Tatum said at least one senior citizen on State Highway 154 has fallen prey to the asphalt scam, and he's hoping someone will be able to help him take down the suspect.
"I've got felony arrest warrants for him, so if he shows up at someone's house, I'd really appreciate it they'd call and let me know," Tatum said today. Tatum can be reached by calling the sheriff's office at 903-438-4040.
Tatum said the con artist is described as a large white male driving a white Hummer. The investigator explained that the man tells his target that he has leftover asphalt that he's willing to use to repave driveways at a reduced price.
For one thing, Tatum said, it's not asphalt -- it's oil and dirt. For another, the man alters the terms of the deal.
"He qoutes one price at the start, then inflates it 500 percent when he's done," Tatum said. "He'll tell them $480 then charge $4,800, and he'll strong-arm them to get them to pay."
Tatum, echoing the longstanding words of past scam warnings, reminds local residents to be wary of any strangers offering them a deal on asphalt or other products.
"I always tell people that if you need something, look in the Yellow Pages and find a business," he said. "Don't buy something from someone who just drives up out of the blue."