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Queens homeowner targeted in roof repair scam

Roof repair scam reported in Queens
Roof repair scam reported in Queens 02:08

NEW YORK -- We're learning about another roofing scam, this time targeting a homeowner in Queens.

Officials say the crimes are underreported and carried out by organized groups.

Glendale resident Kathryn Saffra says she was given a slick card for a roofing business that investigators call untraceable and a scam.

"He seemed legitimate," Saffran said.

She now believes she did not need a new roof, but the retired pharmacy technician says she was convinced otherwise by a stranger who showed up at her front door.

Saffran says he told her, "I'm a contractor. I worked on your neighbor's roof ... and while we were on the roof, we noticed that your roof, something looked funny on your roof."

She added, "And he says to me, 'You have water in your roof.' ... Of course he only wanted cash."

And he got it -- three separate cash payments from her totaling $30,000.

She now has a hole in her roof, a window was broken and a neighbor's car was dented.

"The first thing we have to do is catch this guy," Queens Councilmember Bob Holden said.

He told us the Queens district attorney's office is investigating, and that these crimes are underreported .

"Usually it's spring, so it's a little early for this scam, but they come up in the spring and they prey upon seniors," Holden said.

The break in Saffran's case came when her bank got involved. By the time she returned to get yet another round of cash, bank employees were suspicious, and they did something about it.

"They said, 'I don't want you to take any more money out because you are being scammed,' and that's when she called the police," Saffran said.

Saffran cares for her husband, who has a hard time getting around after back surgery five years ago. Their three adult children are far away. 

For advice, we went to John Dickman, a roofer with 42 years of experience.

"It's nonsense. It's a typical scam job," he said. "Somebody knocks on your door just say, 'No thank you, I have a roofer' or 'I have a contractor.'"

Saffran will have to shell thousands of dollars to get her roof right again.

Holden says victims are often told by police they need to find remedies in civil court, but in cases like these, businesses are illegitimate and nearly impossible to track down for a lawsuit.

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