Canadian Underwriter

Post-Sandy home improvement fraud makes list of top scams for 2012

January 11, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter

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Fraudulent home improvement offers following superstorm Sandy last fall have made the top 10 list of scams in 2012.

FraudThe Better Business Bureau in the United States published a list of the top scams for the year this week. “BBB spends a lot of time investigating and reporting on home improvement scams, but this year we saw an unusual amount of ‘storm chaser’ activity following superstorm Sandy,” it notes on its website.

False offers included tree removal, roofing, and general home repairs from cotnractors “unlicensed, uninsured and ill-prepared for the work; while some were even out-and-out scam artists who took the money and never did the work,” the organization says.

Identity theft scams on Twitter also made the list, along with a common phishing scam which suggests U.S. president Barack Obama would pay the recipient’s utility bills.

Counterfeit goods were also a common scam in 2012, especially those supposedly connected with celebrities. “Sports memorabilia and phony tickets always make the list of top counterfeit goods,” the BBB said. “

From the Super Bowl to the World Series, counterfeiters manage to have their hands in your pocket all year long. With the London Olympics added to the mix, it appears that 2012 was a good year for sports fakes.”

The “Scam of the Year” went to fake charities that began popping up via social media just hours after the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December.

“It’s hard to say which are the ‘biggest’ scams, as far as the number of people affected or the amount of money stolen, because many go unreported or underreported,” says Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

“Some of these scams have been around as long as BBB – 100 years – and some take advantage of brand new technologies. Our list is made up of the ones that seemed the most audacious, the most egregious. They hurt a lot of people, and it seems that scams are only getting more prevalent even as consumers are getting savvier.”