Police caution New Canaan residents about chimney scams
Published 5:42 pm, Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Need your chimney cleaned? If so, be sure to exercise caution. New Canaan police are warning residents to be vigilant about fraudulent callers claiming to be legitimate chimney cleaners and technicians. Police are specifically cautioning elderly New Canaanites, as they are the demographic targeted most.
According to New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, an elderly woman recently fell victim to a similar scam in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. The resident received a call from a woman claiming to be from "All Season Chimney." The resident was offered a $49 deal to have her fireplace cleaned. However, when they came to clean her chimney, they told the resident there were several badly needed repairs amounting to about $5,000. The company then lowered the number a few times to about $1,900 for "crucial" repairs. After a while, the resident became suspicious and called a local reputable chimney company who came and looked at the work "All Season" did and found nothing different. She was told no work was done for the amount she already paid to the company.
"We just want people in New Canaan to be aware of this, especially at this time of year," Ogrinc said. "Make sure you do your homework to prevent this from happening in your home."
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Ogrinc said the company that allegedly cheated the Croton-on-Hudson resident even went so far as to issue her a client ID number.
"They do everything they can to seem legitimate," she said. "It has happened before in New Canaan and surrounding towns as well."
The other major incidents she was referring to was done by a pair of scam artists known as the Joyce brothers. Adam Joyce and Travis Joyce, of Babylon, N.Y., were caught in a chimney repair sting in Wilton and arrested for ripping off two New Canaan residents who paid them $6,000 to repair their supposedly damaged flues in 2009.
Adam Joyce was charged with performing craftsman work without a license, illegal sales without a tax permit and not providing a notice of cancellation in the repair contract, which tells the homeowner about a mandatory three-day cancellation period.
Travis Joyce was charged with second-degree larceny, performing home improvement without a certificate and not providing the cancellation notice in the work contract.
The investigation began on April 3, 2009, a day after the brothers were arraigned in Norwalk on charges of larceny, reckless endangerment and violating state business codes after allegedly performing $3,200 worth of unnecessary chimney work for a 63-year-old Wilton man.
After reading a story about the brothers' arrest, a New Canaan husband and his wife told police Adam Joyce had worked on their chimney and that they were worried that they too were victims of a scam, according to Adam Joyce's arrest warrant affidavit.
They said that on Feb. 20, 2009, nearly five weeks before the Joyces' arrest in Wilton, a company named S&H Contracting called to schedule a $40 chimney cleaning and inspection at their Village Drive home.
When Adam Joyce arrived, he said the chimney had a cracked liner and would cost $3,500 to fix. After negotiating, Joyce was paid $2,800 for the work, the arrest affidavit said.
A subsequent inspection of the chimney by Oxford-based Connecticut Chimney and Vent LLC found serious problems with the flue.
Connecticut Chimney owner James Jaffe said a new chimney liner was installed improperly and 30 percent of the flue was blocked. The owner paid Connecticut Chimney $3,058 to fix the damage caused by S&H Contracting, the affidavit said.
In late June of 2009, New Canaan police were contacted by a 56-year-old Stonehenge Drive woman who said that she was contacted by S&H near the end of January of 2009 for a free chimney inspection.
She told police that Travis Joyce and two other men told her that her chimney was falling apart and should be repaired immediately, according to Travis Joyce's arrest affidavit. She signed a contract to have her chimney liner repaired for $3,500.
When Jaffe inspected the woman's chimney, he found the liner was installed improperly, the affidavit said.
Staff writer John Nickerson contributed to this report.