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Police department in Massachusetts warns of "uptick" in chimney, roof inspection scams

Online scams: 3 rules to prevent being conned
Online scams: 3 rules to prevent being conned 04:12

CAMBRIDGE - Scammers posing as contractors are targeting Massachusetts residents, the Cambridge Police Department says in a new warning.

Police say there's been a "regional uptick" in reports of someone knocking on doors and offering a free chimney or roof inspection. Their goal is to get hired and secure a deposit from the homeowner.

"The individual will also point out what they say is damaged on your roof/chimney to sound credible," police said Friday in a statement. "Cambridge has seen at least one incident in recent days and regionally there have been similar reports."

How to avoid contractor scams

Police say residents should be sure to only hire "licensed and insured contractors" and do their homework by checking the Better Business Bureau or the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs. 

They also advice getting several estimates in writing that includes a description of the work, price and timeline. 

 "Read contracts carefully and don't sign contracts you don't understand," police said.

Anyone in Cambridge who believes they may have been victimized should call 617-349-3300.

These types of  scams are nothing new in Massachusetts. In January, Quincy police said they found a man with more than $70,000 in cash and stolen jewelry who was believed to be part of an "Irish Traveler" scam. In those incidents, police say scammers will show up at homes with leftover building materials, and then continue to find things at a home that they say need to be repaired.

There was an arrest in a similar incident in Norwood last June, and Saugus police said around the same time that an elderly resident paid more than $100,000 for unnecessary work. 

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