Police warn that the oldest scam around is back in area
An old scam perpetrated by con artists — commonly known as "Blacktop Gypsies" — has hit the area once again.
Both the West Virginia State Police and Morgan County Sheriff's Department report that they have fielded several complaints recently.
Sgt. C.A. Mahood of the Berkeley Springs detachment of the state police said the con men usually arrive with an unmarked dump truck and several pickup trucks, carrying a crew of
five or six men. This gang of thieves typically preys on the elderly.
The leader of the group is a smooth, fast-talking and aggressive salesman who sometimes claims to have excess asphalt from a larger job that he needs to get rid of. He offers to patch or repave a driveway for a huge discount, only $2 to $3 per square foot.
While he is talking to the property owner, his crew often starts doing the work before being asked. When the substandard work is completed, the con man tells the owner that he owes anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000.
If the home owner argues about the price, or refuses to pay, he is threatened with a lawsuit. The man even offers to take a lesser amount in cash, and to follow the owner to the bank.
If a check is written, it is immediately taken to the bank of issue and quickly cashed, in order to prevent the home owner from stopping payment on the check.
What to look for
According to police reports of recent incidents, the man often identifies himself as Douglas Bolton. He is currently wanted in several other jurisdictions in connection with the scam.
The crew arrives with a red, unmarked dump truck and two pickup trucks. One of the pickup trucks is described as a blue GMC Sierra.
"If you feel uncomfortable at all because the salesman is being overly aggressive, don't negotiate. Don't give him any money. Don't take him to the bank. Immediately ask him to leave your property and call the police," Sgt. Mahood said.
If you are in anyway suspicious of a paving crew, call the police. Legitimate crews will not mind being checked out by the police.
"We will be more than glad to come out," Mahood said.
If you feel you are a victim, or about to become a victim of this scam, call the West Virginia State Police at 258-0000 or the Morgan County Sheriff's Department at 258-1067.