GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Somebody was at the front door of Chris Kelly’s house with an offer.
“He said they’d just put pine needles down at my neighbor’s house and had some left over and he’d give me a good deal,” Kelly said.
Chris Kelly, from ROCK 92’s “2 Guys Named Chris,” has a great sense of humor, but it’s hard to laugh about being scammed out of thousands of dollars.
He said that when he asked the unidentified man how much the pine needles and work to put them down would cost, he told him he had a big yard and it would be tough to figure it out. He finally got him to quote $5.50 a bale and a couple of hundred bales for the yard.
Kelly listened to the man share a story about starting a business and said he wanted to help so he hired him. “Two hours later the job is done. He shows me everything he’s done. He says that’s going to be $7100.”
By any measure from any landscaping company, the work done that day in Kelly’s yard was not worth that cost. But this scam artist made Kelly feel like he was in the wrong for questioning the fee. That’s part of the scam.
The scammer starts with an extraordinarily high price and then negotiates down. That’s what he did with Kelly. They agreed on $4500, cash. That is still an unethical, obscene price for the pine needles and work done in Kelly’s yard. “I get all I can out of the ATM. Half of it and I say ‘here’s what I’ve got in cash and I’ll write you a check for the rest.'”
After the yard crew was long gone, Kelly came to his senses.
“I feel so ridiculous. I feel naïve and dumb for even trusting to start with. I didn’t get any kind of invoice. I didn’t get anything. I didn’t know what the company name was.”
That’s when he canceled the check. But the man, who Kelly has no way of identifying, came back to demand money. That’s when Kelly called the police to his house. He hasn’t heard from the scammer again. “I messed up in every possible way.”
He admits he should have seen the red flags that his wife pointed out during the scam. “I felt like I was too smart for that and got taken in. It was the perfect storm against me.”
For all of us who think we’re too smart to fall for a scam, think again. Pay attention to those warning signs.
If someone knocks on your door offering to sell you something, be skeptical. Do your research first. Get recommendations.
Always ask for an invoice listing what work will be done, materials used and the price. Don’t pay with cash and always get a receipt.