Police in Irondequoit, NY, have arrested a man they believe is a serial snow plow scammer who has used multiple false names and addresses to prey on homeowners across Monroe County.
Scott Romero, 39, is the owner of, most recently, MET Construction. In 2011, he had a business called Extreme Snow Plowing, and in 2009 one named Affordable Tree Experts.
“Based upon all of the information that we have, we believe that Mr. Romero is a person who just keeps doing this and doing this, and that’s why we decided to file criminal charges against him,” Irondequoit police Sgt. Mark Bean told theDemocrat and Chronicle Dec. 16.
At this time, Romero faces charges of second-degree scheme to defraud and petit larceny. Two victims came forward alleging that Romero took $269 from them but failed to show up after the first big snowstorm of the year.
Police investigators from Irondequoit, as well as Greece and Webster, are working with the Monroe County Sheriff, the state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau to determine how many people may have been scammed by Romero. They are up to at least 50 complaints thus far.
This isn’t the only alleged scam of this sort that’s come to light recently. The Better Business Bureau, which issued a warning about MET Construction as of Dec. 18, “is being inundated with complaints about snow plow companies,” according to the local ABC affiliate.
In the wake of several such scams across the Northeast, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other officials have released some guidelines to help consumers avoid snowplowing scams.
It’s important to get several quotes to understand what falls within a fair range. An extremely low quote may indicate either fraudulent intent or the risk that a contractor will run out of money before the snow season ends.
In some areas, local ordinances require that snow removal services be licensed. If this is the case, then consumers should always ask for proof of that license. They should also ask for proof of insurance before paying a contractor. Payments, which should be by check, should be split up so that half is paid in advance and half after the winter season has ended.
Contracts should specify services (such as how many inches of snowfall necessitate plowing) and have the name and address of the contractor. That address should not be a post office box.
And, of course, it’s a good idea to use a business that’s been operating for some time and has no complaints with the Better Business Bureau.