After my initial experience with getting scammed, I happened to have some across-the-fence chat with our next-door neighbor Susan. She had noticed that I had two roofers doing repairs on our roof and made an off-hand comment I didn’t expect to hear at all. She just blurted out “Oh- did those Storm Chasers’ hoodwink ya?”
Well- honestly at that point I was kind of confused and told her what happened and she didn’t seem at all surprised with what happened and started to tell me even more. Since we’re new to this neighborhood we’ve only had our home for 3 years now. Our next-door neighbor has been living in her home for more than 30 years.
She told me all sorts of things that I’ve decided to add to my personal roofing experience blog. The first issue she brought up was her Storm Chaser story. It was during the rainy season (which is the worst in July out here in Arizona), and that’s when she started getting hit with pamphlets in her mailbox every day.
She just looked at these and didn’t think much about it. But every day there was another new offer from several roofing companies offering emergency service. She said that this is how they get in your head. Getting all those flyers is kinda like brainwashing since they know you’re going to be thinking about the rain and what would happen- if…
Sneak Boy Scout tricks
Then- that’s when it happened. She was out front doing some trimming on her hedges and a very nice guy driving by slowed down to get her attention. He was just driving by and happened to notice there was something that looked a bit off about her roof. And to her surprise, he had seen these signs before, since he was also a professional roofer.
He said that with all the rain they’re getting, he was sure that she probably wouldn’t see any signs inside her home or water stains on the ceiling. But he was sure it would get worse if it wasn’t fixed right away. Then he started to say that he had just finished a job up the road, and had some leftover supplies. Susan then said- I should have trusted my gut until I glanced over to look at the spot on the roof this guy was talking about.
Used-car salesmen pressure
It was just a dark spot up on the second-floor dormer along the top edge. She wasn’t sure if it was really damage or just a soggy leaf bunched up against the asphalt shingles. But this guy was persistent in telling her that it might get worse by the next storm, but for a couple hundred, he could fix it right away since the previous job had already paid for the supplies. He said it was just a patch-up repair that she was paying for -so she didn’t need a receipt.
She could see that he didn’t have any company name on his car but there was a ladder and tools in the back of the truck he drove, and it did look like he had leftover supplies. Susan asked him why he didn’t have and company name on his truck and he said- oh, I was finished with the job and the sign is magnetic, so I put it in the backseat. Then he said he always does this and showed her the sign which was in the back seat.
It had all the company info and license number, so this seemed legit. Then he said that this is his own vehicle and not a company truck, so he takes the sign off when he finishes for the day. At that point, everything seemed fine and he was even grabbing his ladder. Oh what the heck she said, and let him make the repair. It didn’t take long at all and she paid him cash on the spot.
He then showed her a portion of shingle that did look pretty damaged, but she wasn’t sure. He assured her it would only have gotten worse and she’s lucky he got it in time. After that, he had to leave since he said he needed to get home to the wife and kids and drove off. She looked at the part where he said her roof needed repair and it looked fine, but then- the next day it rained pretty hard and that’s when she immediately saw there was water leaking.
No big surprise that it was in the bedroom where the dormer window was and made a big mess all down the wall. Who knows how much damage there was now? Then she called the roof repair company since she remembered the sign he showed her. She was furious when she talked to them and told them how one of their guys made a repair that got even worse.
She told them what happened, mentioning how one of their repair guys finished a job right up on her street and came just in time to fix her roof using leftover materials. That’s when she was even more shocked to find out they didn’t have any employees working in her area on that day. But then she mentioned the company’s magnetic sign and they then told her something that made her turn white.
The Storm Chasers
They said that one of their company trucks did report having a sign missing and just thought it was some kid’s prank. But it sounds like she got scammed by someone posing as one of their contractors. Then she found out that their employees never offer services using leftover materials or take cash without giving a receipt. The roofing company genuinely sounded concerned that she was cheated and offered to fix her roof with a discount price.
Well, Susan was very happy to hear this and the discounted price did sound very attractive. So they arranged for a contractor to come and take a look to get a better idea of the damage she described. This time a very official truck arrived and the repairman wore a nametag on their company shirt complete with the company name. And they looked at the damage inside and out but this time the repair guy had bad news.
He said whatever the previous scammer did was more damaging because of where the dormer window leak was located and they could do their best to patch the area but it wouldn’t match with the rest of the shingles since they were older. Then they told her they could replace the entire roof with new shingles. They gave an estimate which was obviously too much for her to afford which then the contractor told her that it wasn’t a problem.
Tempting starting bids
Then he went on to tell her that because they’re able to do the work and they can do this through her homeowner’s insurance. But this was long before the insurance policies had changed so the replacement did fall under storm repair and wouldn’t cost her anything. So that sounded great to Susan, so she got an immediate quote on that day. All Susan needed to do is contact her insurance company to request a storm damage claim using her Replacement Cost Value (RCV) portion of her insurance.
They sent out an adjuster right away which took one look at her roof damage and gave the go-ahead since it looked like storm damage, and it was the height of the rainy season. They cut Susan a check based on the estimate the roofing contractor supplied. Later, she deposited this check and the roofing company changed her roof in record time.
They gave her the final invoice which was much cheaper than she expected which was a plus for Susan since she thought this was a good thing and signed a check for the roofing company. This only made things worse when she went to the insurance office to drop off the roofing invoice.
Her insurance company immediately spotted the difference between what the roofing company charged and what was given to her as a payout. It wasn’t more than a week since the roof work was finished and the amount she kept was only a few hundred. But the fact that it appeared she was pocketing the amount was a serious offense and she could have been charged with fraud.
Susan showed her account and the money was still listed in her checking account. She didn’t want to be convicted and was in tears while she talked to her insurance company office manager. She was very lucky they saw she was being honest and didn’t charge her with fraud. And she returned the left-over money the same day by writing a check right away. After that she said, she’s always been careful with her insurance ever since.
Another clue in the mailbox
It wasn’t until she finished her story that I realized that I was getting roofing ads in my mailbox too. I also noticed on that same day, a pick-up truck driving around putting these ads in each box down our street. It wasn’t from any roofing company that had any signs on the side either and it got me thinking that something was off about this. They just looked like some guy n regular clothes.
What if this was part of a larger scam that purposely made roof damage on homes where the roof didn’t even need repair at all? I told Susan this and she said they do this every year in certain neighborhoods. These sneaky tricks usually target older folks trying to get you to replace your roof. They rarely get caught, but after my run-in with roof repair guys, I’ve learned my lesson. Now we’ll look to do simple repairs ourselves and when things seem more serious, we’ll be on the lookout for said Storm Chasers.
When I shared this with Susan, she agreed that it sounded pretty fishy and wouldn’t doubt that this is part of their scam. They even changed the way homeowner insurance pays out storm damage claims so there’s less risk to the owners being charged with fraud! But I sure hope this story will help other people out there learn about what happened to my neighbor. You never know what kinds of tricks you might expect these days.