Ohio attorney general's office offers tips to avoid scams

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. File photo
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. File photo

(FOX19) - It's summer time but scam artists aren't taking a vacation.

Since the start of 2014, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office has received more than 100 reports of grant scams. In this scam, consumers generally receive a call saying they've won a federal grant worth several thousand dollars but first they must send money to cover taxes (usually a few hundred dollars).

In reality, there is no grant and consumers will lose any money they send.

Most consumers don't lose money but about 20 have lost amounts ranging from $150 to over $6,000.

The scammer may lie to the consumer and say the consumer has been selected to receive a grant because:
 "You deserve it."
 "You're a good citizen."
 "You haven't had any recent arrests."
  "You're current on your taxes."
 "You have good credit."

Puppy scam
In the last two years, more than 25 consumers have reported losing money to online pet scams.
The average loss is over $1,000.
Typically the consumer goes online and finds a dog for sale. The "seller" offers to deliver the dog but says the consumer must send payment for shipping or insurance. The consumer sends the money via wire transfer or prepaid money cards (as the seller instructs) but never receives the dog.

Home improvement scam

A contractor comes to the door offering a great deal on roofing or paving services. After the consumer pays, the contractor disappears or does a poor job.

The attorney general's office receives roughly 2,000 complaints a year involving household goods or property improvement.

Since DeWine took office, more than 40 civil lawsuits have been filed against home improvement suppliers and 29 individuals have been convicted on felony counts because of the work of the Economic Crimes Unit, which works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement and prosecutors.

Tips for consumers
Research the contractor before signing a contract.
Check complaints at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or with the Better Business Bureau.
Get written estimates from multiple businesses.
Don't sign over your insurance check to a contractor.
Be skeptical of contractors who come to your door unexpectedly.
Don't make a large down payment.

Report scams (and other consumer complaints) to the Ohio attorney general's office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

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