Gutter work scam bilks Cape Girardeau man out of $500

Friday, June 9, 2006

Police were warning about a new scam in Cape Girardeau after a local resident was bilked out of $500.

Two men showed up at the home of Billy Tate around 3 p.m. Thursday offering to spray a chemical into his gutters to supposedly fight mildew, said Tate, 85, of 2506 Ford Drive.

Originally the men told Tate the cost would be only $75, but later upped the price to $2,600 after the work was done, Tate said. He ended up paying them $500, which was all he could withdraw from an ATM.

"It's a scam," police spokesman Jason Selzer said.

While Tate said he originally tried to turn down the solicitation, one of the men, around 35 years old, told Tate he had been in Baghdad for two years and was a Christian man.

Tate, who has a sign with biblical proverbs in his front yard, believed what the man told him and agreed to let him do the work.

While the man sprayed the chemical in the gutters, the second man, in his late 60s, spoke with Tate and his family members where they discussed other odd jobs the pair could do for cheap.

After the spraying, which took about 30 minutes, the younger man told Tate they would waive labor costs, give him a 10 percent discount and have Tate just pay the price for the product.

That cost over $2,600, according to Tate, who added he felt obliged to pay the men something for the work done and gave them the $500.

Officers were on the lookout for the men, who were seen riding in a green Dodge 1500 Series truck, according to Selzer.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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