BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) -Several communities in Berrien County are reporting a fake home repair scam where the scammer distracts the victim before their partner enters and steals from the home.
16 News Now spoke with law enforcement to learn how you can spot the door-to-door scam before you become a victim.
This scam strategy isn’t new to Berrien County.
Here’s what you need to know so their tricks don’t work on you.
The scam is impacting people all across Berrien County, most recently in New Buffalo, Sodus, and Watervliet.
Reports often include seeing a white, unmarked pick-up truck with no license plates carrying two to four men.
One of them will try to solicit home repair services to the victim as a distraction, while the others sneak in to rob the home.
“They try to get the person out from their home. They try to get them outside and while that person has the homeowner distracted, they will sometimes be one or two with them, sometimes three people, and they will try to enter the home and then they rob them while the other person has them distracted outside,” said Berrien County crime prevention coordinator Kelly Laesch.
Here’s what that looked like this past January when a 74-year-old woman lost $4,500 to the scammers.
This scam tends to target elderly people.
“These door-to-door scammers will go and look for people who are home, usually older or elder, but that’s who’s usually home because they’re retired or they live alone or they’re at home during the day while other people are at work,” Laesch said.
Laesch says some of the red flags might change as the scammers adapt, so she says the best way to play it safe is by never opening the door unless you’re sure you know who you’re talking to.
If you do speak with them, stay in your home, and don’t let them inside.
If you are expecting actual repairmen and you want to make sure you’re not dealing with scammers, ask them for proof of where they work or call the company to confirm.
If you have older loved ones living in Berrien County, make sure they know how to spot these scammers.
If you’ve fallen victim or have any info on who the scammers are, please reach out to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department at 269-983-7141.
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