Monday, December 13, 2010

Beware of Door-to-Door "Home Repair" Scammers

A number of homeowners in Barnaby Woods and other neighborhoods in Chevy Chase, DC have reported the appearance of a group known as "Travelers."  These are scammers who go from door to door pointing out exterior home repairs that they say are needed. In some cases they offer to repair dents in your car on the spot. Not only are these workmen unlicensed, but they often proceed to do the work without authorization. In some cases they receive an okay to proceed but when they're done, they present the homeowner with an exorbitant bill. If the homeowner balks at paying, they may become vaguely or overtly threatening.

The following are some firsthand accounts posted on the Chevy Chase Listserv:
Last Friday two neighbor households were taken in by five workmen who did  modest roof repairs and then charged exorbitant fees for the work. After heated discussion, the workmen "settled for" $5300.00 and left. The neighbors were bamboozled and intimidated by the lead guy, a big, strapping (6'4") white man, a clean shaven, smooth talker who convinced them their home had  leaks and structural damage. Homeowners were taken aback but persuaded the work was necessary, but had no idea the workmen would demand such an extraordinary fee. Workmen were at the house no more than a couple hours, if that.
Fear factored into their settlement:. better to pay the guy and get rid of him and his crew, than put yourself at risk. The workmen had three white trucks with a big "TW" sign" on the side. It also said "roof and gutterrepair." The big man's name is George. The rest of the crew included three Hispanic men and a strange little guy with a British accent.

The whole experience shocked our neighbors, but despite the embarrassment of being taken in, they want to share the information so others are forewarned.

One [of the workmen previously described] was out front of my house today, slowly scouting the block, when he saw me watching him he quickly asked if I wanted some body work done on my car, I pointed out it was a new car with less than 4000 miles on it, he muttered something and drove away. White car, white male, happened quickly so I did not get a good description.


Noticed a white truck yesterday, no ID on it, guy quickly  opened up the back, threw something in it, jumped in the passenger side and the driver sped away. Now I think they  might be linked to the seasonal "package stealers."

Sounds like the Travelers are back in the neighborhood. These scammers are notorious for shoddy, overpriced, fraudulent work (mostly quickie car body repairs, driveway sealing, and roof or other exterior work that is hard to inspect).

Most of the local "clan" live out in rural Virginia. None of these folks have legitimate licenses to do work in DC, and "official" papers they flash are phony. They prey on older victims, especially women, but will target just about anyone. They are brash and will try to intimidate a potential victim, but will  clear out fast if you call them on their fraud - denying it loudly as they drive away.

I have chased away a number of these charlatans. One who was trying to scam an elderly lady parked near the Safeway last summer and more recently a fellow cruising Utah Avenue looking for cars with minor body damage. I wrote down his license number and he drove off:  a good technique if you don't mind being cursed and threatened. Believe me, these guys do NOT want a confrontation with police... so if you pull out your cell phone and say "I am dialing 911" they will tell you to "go ahead!" and then disappear.


  1. I can't believe this exact thing happened to me yesterday ....he kept telling me more and more things that were wrong with the roof but the one big thing he just couldn't give me a price on and then it turned out to be $3000.00. When i started questioning the exhorbitant amount he got mad and said fine you can have it all for free...and said "I don't have to take this kind of abuse and drove off hurling insults at me...his older brother and father were outside and said not to worry...and I don't have to pay etc...there's lots more to the story ..this is an incredible scam because they get all friendly with you and tell you their life stories etc, It was this same company TW Roofing with lots of trucks and a crew of at least 4 men

  2. PS they said this is a family owned business with 3 brothers and a father and they were all present

  3. Re Anonymous 5:27 a.m.--

    Your comment reminds me of a great quote from the Bob Newhart show:

    "Hello, my name is Larry, and this is my brother Daryl, and this is my other brother Daryl."