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Milwaukee Police looking for roofing scammers

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Police are looking for two men accused of stealing thousands of dollars in a door-to-door scam.

The Better Business Bureau, BBB, says these scammers are professional, and this could happen to anyone.

"I said are you Mike's brother? And he hesitated and said, 'yeah.' So I thought he was," said Tom.

Milwaukee resident, Tom, knew he had to get his leaky roof repaired. He even spoke briefly about having a neighbor's family member come by for the repairs. A couple of weeks later, someone showed up at his door with a good deal.

"They knew all the right things to say," said Tom.

He went inside to get a $50 cash deposit for the so-called roofers. Soon after, the fake contractors asked Tom to come in the backyard, and they talked about concrete work. During that time is when thousands of dollars were stolen from the elderly man.

"This is a neighbor's residence that had video surveillance," said Detective Tiffany Skoniecnzy while looking at a computer screen. The detective explains why it's not a typical door to door scam.

One fake contractor distracted Tom, while another snuck into his house and stole cash.

"Their presence was less than 10 minutes," said Detective Skoniecnzy. "He went back into the residence, and by the time he traveled back out to the front, the vehicle was gone, and so were the individuals, and he knew he was taken advantage of.

Tom says they even fed his dog when they were in the house.

"They had to give her something otherwise she would have barked."

"I just hope it doesn't happen to no one else. I lost a lot of money, and I'll never get it back,' said Tom.

He does hope they get caught. A neighbor's surveillance camera did catch video of one suspect and the vehicle they were driving.

The two men were in a dark green or blue van with tan trim, possibly a Pontiac Montana or Buick Terraza.

The BBB says this type of scam peaks in the summer.

"They're going to have every story. They're going to make you feel stupid and say, 'Are you kidding? I can do this job for half, but I've got to do it now because I have the material.' It's just not true," said Jim Temmer, President, BBB Serving Wisconsin

While door to door asphalt pavers seems to be the most common scam, Temmer says they'll find your home's weak spot -- from a roof to dented siding, to a tree that's leaning.

They recommend asking for identification and checking the company reputation at BBB.org.

"Don't fall for common tactics used to gain your trust. The solicitor will often say that they live in the neighborhood and that your neighbors have 'just had work done.'"

The BBB says these scammers will often say they have extra materials from another job, and they will charge you less. They usually don't have a business card or identification, and they request payment upfront. They use high-pressure tactics, and the BBB says it is okay to call the police if you feel threatened.

Here are a few other red flags to notice:

-Suspect all "act now for the best price" schemes

-Always lock your doors when doing yard work

-Never allow strangers inside your home

-Ask salesmen to produce identification, and confirm their alleged employment.

-Contact the utility company by telephone if any purported city employee wants to enter your home, or requests you go outside with him/her.

-Display "no solicitation" "beware of dog" and "we check with BBB first" decals on your door.

-Be wary of unexpected contact with strangers (in person or on the telephone).

-Suspect all "door to door" sales solicitations.

-Be suspicious of anyone knocking at your door asking to make repairs to your home and/or asking to pave or seal your driveway, or claiming you have damage to your roof/siding, etc.

-Do not feel the pressure to act now. Tell the representative that you need time to think before making a decision, comparison shop, and verify the company's information.

-Check BBB.org to see if complaints have been filed against the person or business

-Ask for references and call them

-Get several repair estimates and compare prices

-Talk with a trusted friend or relative before making major money decisions

-Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics

-Pay by check (so you can stop payment if dissatisfied) or credit card. NEVER PAY CASH

-Print "deposit only" on the back of a personal check to create a "paper trail"

-Be sure work is completed to your satisfaction before you make the final payment

-Remember, you have three days to cancel a contract if you signed the contract at your home (i.e. away from the place of business)/

-Write down license plate number of any suspicious vehicles the suspects may be operating. Note if the vehicles are marked with a business name or not.

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