A Corfu couple is feeling burned and they want to warn other area residents not to fall for the same scam a traveling pavement company pulled on them.
The couple -- who asked not to be identified -- paid $7,500 to have an asphalt driveway installed, which was more than the original $3-per-square-foot quote the contractor gave when he arrived at their door saying he had some asphalt left over from a previous job.
While the two-day-old driveway looks beautiful and black right now, the couple has since learned it won't even last a year.
The husband first became suspicious when, after the job was done, the contractor insisted on getting a check immediately because he said he needed to pay for the asphalt. The man thought, "why does he need to pay for asphalt if it was extra?"
About that time, the wife called her parents and her father said he had read about asphalt driveway scams on the Internet.
That's when they decided to call police and contact local media. The couple claim the out-of-state contractor -- whom we're not identifying because the case remains under investigation -- is listed on a website that warns of just such scams. They say crew boss is wanted for the same alleged scam in other states. (We didn't find the same site, but search "driveway paving scams" in Google and you'll find thousands of articles on the topic.)
After the asphalt was down and the check was cashed, the homeowners had another local contractor look at the work. He said, according to the couple, that the workers who put down the asphalt didn't prepare the bed properly and the asphalt needs to be about three times thicker than it is.
We called Tim Hens, county highway superintendent, for his expert opinion and Hens said a well-installed asphalt driveway would have a sealing coat over a crushed rock bed and about three inches of asphalt laid.
The Corfu couple's driveway is an inch or less thick.
"It's not uncommon for contractors to have extra asphalt after a job," Hens said. "But I've never heard of them going around door-to-door trying to peddle it for another job. It's just not how it's done."
State Police Investigator Leo Hunter is looking into the Corfu case, but his investigation began only yesterday. He said it's not clear yet that a crime has been committed. If it's just a matter of alleged shoddy work, it could be a civil matter. However, if there are other local victims of the same firm, that could indicate deliberate fraud taking place.
The Los Angeles Times offers these seven signs that you're being scammed:
• Unsolicited offers to do painting, roofing or paving work
• Claims of leftover materials
• High-pressure or scare tactics
• Reluctance to sign a written contract
• Demand for payment in cash
• New vehicles and out-of-state license plates
• Toll-free telephone contact numbers instead of a local number
Or as Hens put it, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
"You get what you pay for," he added.
As for the Corfu couple, they're feeling both angry and embarrassed.
"It's almost as if you're naive if you believe people these days," said the husband.