When Jerry Slominski checked over his driveway, he discovered a less-than-smooth surface. Bumps covered the blacktop, cracks were barely patched up, and pollen was pushed into the pavement surface.
“I took him at his word, and this is what happened,” Slominski said.
Slominski was one of many on his Blooming Grove block to fall victim to a scam artist.
Last week, Slominski said a man knocked on his door, offering to repave his driveway. There were two other workers in his truck.
“He says, 'You want me to give you an estimate?' I said, 'Yeah, you can give me an estimate,'” Slominski said. “He says, '$150.'”
It was a better deal than anything else Slominski had heard, so he took him up on his offer.
In the end, Slominski paid the man double what he initially agreed to after the workers’ first attempt at repaving the driveway fell far short of his expectations. Slominski described it as a play on words, leaving room for interpretation on the final price.
“It should have been nice and smooth like it was in the past, but it wasn't, so I was suspicious,” Slominski said.
Trisha Faircloth, who also lives in Blooming Grove, was also conned by the man, at least one that went by the same name. She said she had to ask multiple times for a business card and even felt compelled to take down his license plate number when he was at her home.
According to Faircloth, the man approached her and offered her a reduced price on the product used to repave the driveway.
She told him she only had a couple hundred dollars for the project, but when he and his crew were finished, he tried charging her more than $600. Faircloth refused. Instead she went back into the house, grabbed him $200 in cash, wrote him an additional $150 check, and paid him.
Faircloth said once her check was cashed in Prairie Du Sac, she called around to hotels in the immediate area. On her fourth try, she was put through to the man’s room at the Skyview Motel. Faircloth hung up after one ring, and quickly called police.
Faircloth said deputies didn’t get to the Prairie Du Sac hotel until the man had left. She got back on the phone and, again, figured out what hotel he was staying out. This time, he was at the Campus Inn Motel in Baraboo.
Dane County deputies have yet to find the man, but they could arrest him on fraud charges.
Faircloth and one of Slominski’s neighbors tried to call the number on the paving company’s business card. Both of them reached a woman who said she was in northern Illinois and claimed to have no knowledge of the supposed Dells-based business.
The state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) sees these kinds of scams every summer with a number of outdoor work projects, like roofing, siding, and paving.
“Quite frequently, it's not blacktop at all. It's some kind of dirty motor oil,” DATCP Division Administrator Of Trade And Consumer Protection Sandy Chalmers said.
Chalmers said these people will pose as professionals, but typically use questionable materials, hike up the cost of the contract, or take the customer’s money without doing any work.
“Just resist that pitch, resist that temptation to jump in at great deal because in the end, it probably isn't such a great deal after all,” Chalmers advised.
If you have experienced a similar scam, contact the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and/or file a report with DATCP.