Amanda Brochu came home from work one day and her entire driveway was gone. Not the items on the driveway, but the driveway itself. Instead of the long concrete slab driveway in between her garage and the street, there was only tread-marked dirt. It turns out Brochu was the unintended victim of a scam, designed to steal money from home contractors.
“I come home and my driveway is gone,” Brochu told WFTV9 Orlando. The people who took Brochu's driveway from her Apopka, Florida home worked for a local contractor, who was hired to demolish and remove it. The problem is that the contractor wasn't hired by Brochu. Instead, they were hired by a thief who went by the name "Andre."
Why would someone hire a contractor to do work on someone else's house? According to WFTV9, it's called an "overpayment scam" and contractors are actually the intended victims. The idea is to find a home listed for sale—on Zillow, Realtor.com, or any other real estate listing site—and hire a contractor to do some exterior work to the property. It could be a roofing job, a driveway removal, or even painting the exterior. Once the contractor and scammer agree to a price, the scammer will send a check for more than the agreed-upon price. Then, they'll reach out to the contractor, saying there was a mistake on the check, and ask for the extra money to be refunded. If the contractor sends cash to refund the difference and then cashes the check, the check will bounce and the scammer will make off with the difference.
Usually, when this happens, the work is already done and the homeowner is an unintended victim who has to deal with whatever was done to their home. However, for this scam to work, the contractor has to not only agree to the job without meeting the homeowner but also do the job without anyone at home.
In Brochu's case, she needs the sale of her home to buy another home she's currently under contract to buy. Few people will want to buy a house without a driveway but she couldn't initially afford the $10,000 to have it repaved, so she set up a GoFundMe to help pay for a replacement. Thankfully, a Cox Media Group radio sponsor is offering to install a new driveway, and the GoFundMe money will be donated to a local nonprofit.
As a homeowner, there's really no way of preventing this because it will happen without you knowing about it. Of course, it requires a contractor willing to do work on a home without ever meeting the homeowner, which isn't common. But the homeowner is completely unaware anything is going on until they come home to a missing driveway.
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