Beware of door-to-door asphalt sealers, warn cops across the west
Salt Lake City —
(KUTV) Geraldine Morgan has a newly coated driveway, which is exactly what she paid for. Still, her granddaughter, Jessica Thomas, is sure her grandma was the victim of scam.
“Some guys stopped in a white pickup truck asking if they could do a flex seal on her pavement," Thomas said.
Morgan agreed and work began before Morgan was ever told what the cost for the job would be. Then, work abruptly stopped.
"Halfway through it, they stopped and asked for a check,” Thomas said. “The first total was $24,000.”
Morgan said she couldn’t afford that, and the company agreed to take $15,500. She wrote them a check, they finished up and left.
Weeks later, they can't get in touch with the contractor to come fix what they think was a bad job.
“If I had them here now I'd probably wring their necks," Morgan said.
It turns out, the group who did the work for Morgan is well known to law enforcement. Cops say a group of transients are moving around, knocking on people's doors, smooth talking people into the sealant, then disappearing with huge piles of cash.
In March, California's Contractors State License Board’s investigators arrested two members of the group for trying to pressure a California consumer into paying $16,000 for a seal coat.
In April, Nevada issued felony warrants against members of the same group after customers there were ripped off, regulators say.
Now, here in Utah, the Box Elder County Sheriff is issuing a warning to keep an eye out for the group. The sheriff’s office has "two active investigations" into the group’s dealings, the warning states.
"There is a family operation moving around Box Elder County sealing driveways," the warning states. "It is operating under the name of International Seal Coating and Paving. The main spokesperson for the company identifies himself as Jim Costello."
"They target the elderly population so families please warn your parents and grandparents of this issue. The concern is that they are charging excessive amounts of money for the work being completed," it states.
As for Morgan, she says she’s mad and feels ripped off. She hopes no one else gets taken like she was.
Utah state regulators tell me that this is an important lesson in not trusting people who show up at your door with a high pressure sales pitch. If salesman or contractor gets pushy or doesn't want you to check them out, that's a big red flag.
And, if you feel as though you may have fallen for this one, Utah’s dept. of professional licensing wants to hear from you.