Strangers pitch in for elderly woman who was scammed

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Weeks after an elderly Waterford Township woman was duped out of half her life savings in a scam, donors have restored her faith in humanity.

The 86-year-old woman was tricked into giving two men $4,000 for a driveway-sealing job on May 26 that they originally quoted her $58.

An anonymous woman from Oakland County gave the elderly victim a check for the $4,000 she lost in the scam, Waterford Police Detective Keith Zoltowski said.

He said the Farmington Hills-based Contractors Asphalt Paving also offered to tear out the woman’s old driveway and replace it with a new one.

The driveway was in bad shape after the two men reportedly sprayed a sealant on it, the detective said.

“She’s kind of overwhelmed with everything,” Zoltowski said. “She is very grateful and was very pleased with the generosity of people.”

The elderly woman told police the two men — possibly Hispanic — approached her while she was working in her yard in the 100 block of Draper and started spraying a sealant on her driveway.

While one man was doing the work, the other — described as bald and clean-shaven — told the woman he had extra sealant and could complete her entire driveway for $58, police said. The man spoke to the other man in a foreign language, possibly Spanish, the woman said.

Once the job was completed, the suspects said they had used 78 gallons of sealant and demanded $4,000. When she told them she did not have that much money, she offered to pay them with a credit card, which they declined. Instead, they drove the woman to her credit union, where she withdrew the funds.

Zoltowski said the police department is following up on several leads and working to identify the men.

He said scams such as this one are becoming more common and residents should always be vigilant.

“They quote one price and then when they are done, (the price) is quadrupled,” Zoltowski said.

He urges people to call the police if they are uncertain about allowing someone to do work on their home.

“If you didn’t call an asphalt business to come give you a quote, you should be leery of people who approach you,” Zoltowski said. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

Staff writer Mike Martindale contributed to this report.