Traveling con artists spotted in South Georgia

WALB News, Georgia/March 12, 2008

Worth County - The Worth County Sheriff suspects a group of con artists sometimes called the Irish Travelers is back in the area, and has already ripped off at least one woman. The Sheriff wants to warn all South Georgians to be wary of strangers offering to do odd jobs at a great price.

88 year old Evelyn Guarnieri says three men stopped at her home March 3rd, and offered to coat her roof cheap. Sheriff Freddie Tompkins said "wanted to spray some asphalt on her roof, and told her it would be five dollars. They started the work, but told here it would be five dollars a bucket. The five dollars turned into 400 dollars."

As soon as she wrote the men a check, they took off running. The little bit of work they did was a sham. Sheriff Tompkins said "the stuff they mixed up, it was so thin, nothing even showed up on the white next to the roof. It looked like they were just blowing water up on it."

By the time Guarnieri realized what had happened and called the bank, the check had already been cashed, and her 400 dollars was gone. Sheriff Tompkins says these con men start to show up each spring. Sheriff Tompkins said "I think these people live up north, and they migrate south. They spray roofs, spray houses, and asphalt drives. And we get several complaints a year out of them."

Sometimes called Irish Travelers, the con artists sometimes say they have materials left over from another job, and will do your job cheap. Sheriff Tompkins said "The old saying is, if they come out and want to do some work to your house and the price sounds too good to be true, it usually ain't."

Sheriff Tompkins has contacted surrounding counties that these con men have been spotted in South Georgia again, and warns people to only deal with local contractors they know.

Sheriff Tompkins said the majority of people scammed by these traveling con artists never report the crime, because they are embarrassed. But he asks you to report if you have had contact with these con men, to prevent anyone else from becoming victims.

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