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Police Say It's the Season for Home Improvement Scam Artists: An Olney Man Shares His Story

10:16 PM, Apr 12, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- If you have an elderly mom or dad or even an elderly neighbor or a friend, this story is for you.

Montgomery County police say a scam artist is targeting them, offering unnecessary home repairs, then taking the money, and running.

Police say you should look out for a chimney repairman with an eye on the elderly. He's not there to help, or make legitimate repairs, but, police say, to scam. 

The son of a 92-year-old victim with dementia is speaking out for his dad who can't. Joe Devost of Olney knows exactly who this scam artist is looking for, "It's the elderly, they're not knocking on my door, they're not knocking on my neighbors door, it's exclusively here." Devost is talking about his parent's home.

Police say it was June, 2012, when a man and a woman showed up at Devost's elderly parents door in Olney. His dad has dementia, his mom, who doesn't, was taking a nap. Twenty minutes later, Joe got a call, the man was on the roof. "He was putting spray paint on there, when he wasn't expecting was somebody to come up and walk around on the roof and look at it." But Joe did. He says the roof didn't even need repairs. Devost says, "The guys up there with a can of spray paint and he wants $860 bucks."

That would be $860 bucks which the alleged scammer didn't get. Joe called police, and both 49-year-old Virginia Breeden, and 30-year-old Joseph Sprinkel took off, cursing. But not before Joe snapped a picture of their truck. It helped police arrest Breeden.

They're still looking for Sprinkel and Joe wants you to look out, "It's a despicable act. They knew what they were doing, they're taking advantage of a guy, my dad's got dementia at this stage of the game he barely knows who I am."

Even more sickening that this happened at all, is that it's happened before. Joe says the police told him scam artists share information. His neighbor says Breeden and Sprinkel were casing the place, "The truck was driving up and down the street for 20 minutes until all the cars were gone I went in, and it was his signature on the document not hers, that's not a mistake"

Police say it's not only cherry blossom season, it's the season for home improvement scam artists. They say you should be wary of anyone who comes to your door, especially if you live in Olney.

Devost agrees, "The frequency of these people coming over here, it's not an accident, you expect to run into one or two, but it's like we're seeing them every week."

Joe says after the two left, he had a general contractor come to see the chimney and he deemed the work unnecessary. 

Sprinkel faces charges of attempted theft, attempted financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and several other charges, if you know where he is, Montgomery County Police ask that you call 301-279-8000.

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