Landscaping scam hitting Tucson neighborhoods

Published: Apr. 6, 2017 at 11:52 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:13 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson News Now is warning the public about a landscaping scam that's circulating Tucson neighborhoods. This is the time of year when many are cleaning up their yards, but before hiring anyone to do the work, listen to this first.

Oro Valley Police are now investigating four reports of this scam from the Copper Creek neighborhood near Tangerine and La Canada, as well as several more in Pima County.

Lt. Hicks said a man is going door to door offering to do yard work for an upfront price. The victim we spoke to paid the man $200 to clean up weeds, but he said the suspect took the cash and took off, before finishing the job.

"I feel violated, like I'm a victim. It's horrible," Stephen Williams said.

Williams spotted landscapers working on his neighbor's yard in Copper Creek last week and invited them over to get a quote on his property. He agreed to pay the man to clean up his front and back yard. He said the man seemed trustworthy and it sounded like a great business deal.

"He pulled out his driver's license and his permanent residence card and showed me, so I thought this is legit – a criminal wouldn't do that," Williams said.

Williams said the man actually started to pull weeds, and he wasn't going to pay him the cash until after the job was completely finished but then something came up.

"He said could I possibly get the money upfront because I need to pay my electric bill before it gets shut off, so you're trying to help somebody out. I've been unemployed I know what it's like so I said sure."

And sure enough that was the last Williams ever saw of him. Tucson News Now called the alleged scammer's phone number looking for answers on Thursday night. The man answered but then hung up.

Susann Miller with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona said Home Improvement Scams were the number one scam in 2016. She recommends getting additional quotes on yard work and get it in writing.

"You want to make sure you have a contract to protect yourself because that is the key to also having recourse if you have to take it to court," Susann Miller said.

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As for Williams he said he learned a tough lesson, but now hopes no one else will fall victim.

"It's not just about the money, I can live without the money and monetary things but just to have faith in humanity, that's the big thing. When folks step on that faith in humanity, it makes you very leery."

Williams said the suspect did not claim to be with a certain company and had no logos on his work truck.

If you see anything suspicious or are victim of this type of crime contact the Oro Valley Police Department at 520-229-4900.

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