Watch out for shoveling scam, woman warns

Last updated: March 16, 2017 - 5:30pm

MAHONING TWP. — Nancy DeLong paid $70 to three people to shovel her driveway and sidewalk on Maple Street.

Instead, she learned an expensive lesson about scams, she said.

DeLong, 85, says she’s not gullible — she normally doesn’t trust people she doesn’t know – but she figured she was in the clear after seeing  them shovel out a neighbor’s driveway Wednesday.

Plus, it was a bit of a relief when a man in his late 20s or early 30s, with “real bad teeth” knocked at her door, she said. The person who normally shovels her sidewalks wasn’t available, and the two feet of snow left behind by Winter Storm Stella was overwhelming.

The man at the door asked for the $70 in advance. That would save both of them a trip to the door, he explained.

Another man waited at the end of her driveway, and a third person sat behind the wheel of a black Geo Tracker, DeLong said.

Normally, DeLong wouldn’t have paid that much, but she was desperate, so she handed over the money.

Then she watched in confusion as he and the other man got in the Tracker and drove away.

At first, DeLong figured they were just moving the vehicle out of the road.

“I thought, ‘Well, they’ll be back.’ But they didn’t (come back),” DeLong said.

It didn’t take DeLong long to realize she’d been scammed. She quickly called police, who arrived just minutes later.

Canvassing the neighborhood
She had seen the car driving slowly down the road earlier, she said. At first, DeLong thought they were working in the area and were looking for a place to park. Now she thinks they were simply canvassing the neighborhood for victims.

They stopped and shoveled out her neighbor, who was stuck and spinning her tires in her driveway, but the neighbor paid them after the work was done, DeLong said.

Also scammed?
Still, the neighbor believes she was also scammed, DeLong said. The man asked for $20 per person, so she paid him $60. But the third person never got out of the car, she told DeLong.

She and the other neighbors told police what they knew, including the make, model and color of their car, but DeLong fears they’re gone for good.

DeLong didn’t get a good look at the man who came to the door because his hood was up, but she noticed the bad teeth right away because she used to work in a dentist’s office. He’s possibly Hispanic, she added.

With two feet of snow still sitting on her sidewalk, DeLong called a contractor to remove the snow. After hearing her story, owner Anthony Sori offered to remove the snow for free, but DeLong paid him anyway.

“It wasn’t his fault,” she said. “It was an expensive snowfall for me. You live and learn.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Mahoning Township Police at 570-275-5611.

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