Roofing scam sees companies targeted by email fraudsters

Roofing scam sees companies targeted by email fraudsters

At least three roofing companies in Waterloo Region have recently been targeted by a complex scam involving recently sold houses.

Rhys Williams of The Roofman Inc. says an email requesting an estimate on replacing a certain home’s roof in Kitchener left him “a little bit suspicious.”

There was no obvious red flag, but there were a number of things about the email that seemed a little off. It had several spelling and punctuation issues. The sender had an American phone number and claimed he had learned of The Roofman Inc. through Yelp, an American website.

The property in question had recently been sold. Real estate agent Michelle Wobst says she’s aware of at least three roofing companies that received similar emails about it.

One company – concerned that they were being scammed – called Wobst to confirm if the name on the email was the name of either the buyer or the seller. It wasn’t.

“They were kind of skeptical as to why somebody would be doing the roof during the process of selling,” she said.

Another company was a little less skeptical. Last week, the seller woke up and noticed a crane in her driveway and shingles being loaded onto her roof.

That roofing company had been sent a cheque containing a full payment for the supposed roof replacement job – and a little extra. The emailer had asked them to return the difference through an email transfer.

“Obviously the first cheque isn’t going to clear, and now this guy’s out like $1,500,” Wobst says.

At The Roofman Inc., it was the third time a similar scammer had tried to get them. Williams has one piece of advice for any roofing companies unsure if a questionable request is legitimate.

“If you can’t get a face-to-face with the potential client … you should definitely consider doing more research,” he says.

Police say homeowners who see a construction crew performing unexpected work at their home around the time of a sale or purchase should contact their real estate agent to determine exactly what is happening.

With reporting by Max Wark

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