The Butler County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about a diluted blacktop sealer scam being reported around the area.
Sheriff Richard Jones said contact with the victim usually begins with a knock on the door or unsolicited phone call. The scammer offers to provide products or services at a cheap price because there is some excess material from a previous job.
Jones said the product is usually dispensed out of a plastic or metal tank from the back of a pickup truck.
Victims reported that even though the finished job looked great at first, the sealer product was diluted or watered down so much that is washes away. By the time the victim realizes the problem, Jones said the worker and the victim's money are "long gone."
After investigating multiple complaints, the sheriff's office said the sealer product is normally diluted by about 25 percent according to instructions. However, it appears that some scammers have been diluting the product by 75 to 100 percent.
In addition, Jones believes some local product suppliers are telling
their customers to dilute the product to those extremes as well.
"I am investigating right now on the possibility of criminal charges for suppliers who knowingly make such an inferior mixture," said Jones. "I don't know who's worse – the supplier that helps mix up the inferior product, or the scammer that sells it to an unsuspecting victim. To me, that supplier has to be just as guilty. If I can't find an existing law that addresses this particular problem, I'll push for new legislation. This is just a big rip-off."
Jones warns customers should always be exceptionally cautious if
someone approaches you first and offers a "good deal" for a quick
repair or service. Get two or three bids for work, as well as agreements in writing, identification from workers and license numbers for any vehicles involved in completing the work.
In addition, ask where the sealer mixture was purchased. If it turns out to be a bad mix, report it to the Butler County Sheriff's Office at (513) 785-1000.
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