A resident in North Saanich believes he may have fallen victim to a handyman fraud that’s travelling across Vancouver Island after hiring someone to do driveway repairs.
Last week, Jim Gower said he was heading out the door for a choir concert when he was approached by a stranger.
“This man appeared at the door and said he had some recycled asphalt that he could spread on our driveway at a good cost,” Gower explained.
He said the man had a few trucks with the name FLOCON Construction on them and a crew ready to work, making him look like a legitimate business.
Gower had been considering redoing his driveway, and was in a rush to get out the door to head to a concert, so he agreed to the offer.
Gower said he left without discussing a price or signing a contract.
“Which was really silly of me, I should have thought about it,” he added.
By the time he got home from the concert, Gower said the project was completed.
That’s when the workers told Gower it would cost him $14,000. Gower said he was able talk them down to $10,000.
He explained the workers wanted the payment right away and instructed him to get a money order, with one of the men following him to the bank.
“About half way there I started to feel, this is really strange,” Gower said. “I got as far as the bank and told the teller I’m here to pick up a bank draft for $10,000 to pay this guy waiting in the parking lot. She said you’re obviously under a lot of pressure, you should maybe think about it.”
Gower then told the guy in the parking lot he was going to pay after the weekend and the man agreed.
Gower said that weekend he brought in an expert to inspect the work and was told he should be billed only $5,000.
Days later his family saw a warning from Nanaimo RCMP about a travelling handyman scam.
Police say the scammers, using a variety of company names, have been targeting victims across the Island over the past few weeks.
Gower’s daughter, Kate Gower, was concerned by this warning and immediately got on the phone to get some answers.
“I found FLOCON Construction online and I phoned them and it was in Ontario,” Kate said.
The owner of FLOCON Excavation Construction, Jorge Flores, said his company is based and operated in Ontario, but he has received a flood of calls from people in B.C. complaining about project costs or crews not finishing the work.
“They have already left a few Google reviews where it said not to do business with my establishment,” Flores told CHEK News. “I’ve basically been with Google the last few days going back and forth to see if I can rectify all of this.”
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Flores said this has caused a lot of confusion for him and those calling to complain.
He said homeowners should never hire someone going door to door. He added projects should never be paid upfront in full and homeowners should research a company before agreeing to a project.
“Ask for business cards, ask for proof and a track record. Do you have a website or at least show me something relevant to what you have done,” Flores said.
Kate said this experience was eye-opening, as she had heard of these types of scams before but never knew anyone affected.
“My dad is a smart man, if it can happen to him it can happen to anybody,” Kate said.
Gower said he has learned to be a little more cautious, slow down and don’t be pressured to instant action.
Anyone with information on these types of fraud is asked to call the local police detachment.
More information on current frauds and scams can be found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.