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Bancroft homeowners lose thousands to alleged paving scam that may have ties to international organized crime

Over the last few weeks at least six different Bancroft homeowners signed up to have their driveways paved after a man showed up at their door with a quote for services.

According to homeowner Kara McLewee the pavers had what looked to be proper equipment including a roller and a large red dump truck.

“I had seen him working on other houses in the neighborhood. From the road it looked like an asphalt driveway and he said you don’t pay until you’re totally happy. So, we’re like, ‘OK.’” Said McLewee “So he comes, dumps the load and then he comes back and he starts doing the work and we’re like ‘oh, well, clearly he’s legit, he’s here, he’s doing the work’”

It was after the victims paid, and the work crew left town, that residents realized something was wrong.

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“Since we couldn’t walk on it at first, we didn’t know for a few days that it was sand and gravel, it wasn’t firming up and you could just pick it up and it just crumbles in your hand like you’re at the beach.”

McLewee said she got in touch with her neighbour who’d recently also had her driveway done:

“I messaged my friend and said, are you happy with your driveway? And she goes no we’re on the phone with the OPP right now.”

OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson confirmed they are looking into the matter.

“The OPP is launching an investigation into these allegations of fraud. I know [Bancroft]Staff Sergeant Jeff McKinnon has been in touch with residents. Police have gone up, met with some of the victims, and we’ve been identifying additional potential victims in this case,” added Dickson.

Although OPP could not comment on a possible network of criminal activity, we spoke with Irish crime journalist Eamon Dillon who has covered what’s known internationally as “Tarmac Scams” for over 20 years. He said what happened in Bancroft shows many of the hallmarks of the scam which often has roots back in Ireland.

“These guys are following a pattern that is used by Irish organized crime groups based in Ireland and the UK who travel the world,” said Dillon, “It wouldn’t surprise me if these guys are arrested or picked up, that they are part of this group. I could probably guess their surnames.”

Dillon also spoke about a particular way the fraudsters try to pass themselves off as Canadian.

“This happened in Toronto a few years ago. They were saying yeah, we’re from Newfoundland because they know the accent is similar to the Irish accent. There have been documentaries about Newfoundland and their accent in Ireland. They would have known that and used it,” he added.

Kara McLewey said alarm bells went off in her head when the man in charge of the job appeared to be lying about his accent.

“I said you’re Irish, and he goes ‘no no no I’m from Newfoundland’ and I was like, in my head, thinking why is he lying? We lived in the U.K. for 7 years. I know what an Irish accent sounds like.”

Residents lost more than money in many cases. One woman who struggles with mobility as a result of muscular dystrophy now finds it hard to get in and out of her house on the loose gravel on her driveway. Some homeowners used the last of their savings. Others borrowed money to have their driveways done.

My Bancroft Now will continue to look into the story and be providing updates as it evolves.

submitted ring cam of dump truck
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