Farmer warns about asphalt crew with modus operandi matching previous police warnings
Nation Valley News
OSGOODE — When many rural people think about scams, they think online fraud, credit card crime and, often, a generally urban phenomenon.
Dave McDiarmid of Winchester reached out to Nation Valley News in order to inform the public just how untrue that assumption is.
It was a normal sunny Wednesday afternoon when the McDiarmid family farm — Midlee Farms Limited — was paid an unexpected visit by a seemingly professional, trustworthy contractor who went by the name of Roy.
Roy explained to the McDiarmids that he had a full dump truck load of excess “highway grade asphalt” that he needed to unload before it hardened. He would give it to them and lay it at a rate far below market value.
The family was still unsure until Roy started “dropping names,” according to Dave. He assured them that several neighbours had used the company’s services and had referred their farm to him.
Dave described Roy as an “extremely smooth talker” with a “thick New Zealand accent.”
He knew what to say and how to sway the very smart farmers/business owners.
Hearing their neighbours names ultimately persuaded them to take his word for it and agree to have him and his crew lay some asphalt for them behind their barn.
The plan was to add an additional 2,400 square feet — which he measured out with his feet — to the drive-in part of their bunker silos.
They verbally agreed on $2,200 for the job, according to Dave.
A few hours later Roy’s crew showed up — minus Roy — with their construction equipment and got to work right away. Dave’s brother oversaw the first hour of work and wasn’t “feeling quite right about the work they were doing,” as Dave retold the phone conversation he had with his brother.
He drove right over to see what was going on. To his dismay, his brother was right. The job was incredibly sloppy. It wasn’t straight, wasn’t anywhere near three inches thick as they had previously discussed, and wasn’t level.
Dave and his brother had done some paving of their own on a much larger portion of the bunker and they knew what the paving process looked like and how the finished product should appear. The crumbling result was definitely not “highway grade” as Roy had promised.
Dave said he confronted the foreman — whom Roy had left in charge — about the “shoddy job” and the conversation quickly became heated.
The foreman told the McDiarmids that the job was completed and that they owed them $5,500 — a far cry from the $2,200 previously agreed upon.
Dave told him he wasn’t paying anything, let alone an additional $3,000.
Several words were exchanged, which included the foreman ironically calling Dave a “con man,” the young farmer recalled.
After plenty more uttered words, Dave threatened to call the police if the crew didn’t leave the property immediately.
He was able to capture pictures of the workers, the dump truck, and the foreman’s truck before they exited the premises.
They refused to leave an invoice copy with the family but his brother’s quick fingers snapped a shot of it.
They later looked up the address on the document, which turned out to be a vacant building in Wasaga Beach listed for sale with Remax.
While the McDiarmids held onto their money, Dave later found out that a handful of local farmers in the area did shell out, adding that one of his farmer friends lost over $60,000 at the hands of this crew. He estimated the total losses of all locally affected farmers at “half a million dollars.”
He said the company has called the family home a few times, looking for money. Each time, it’s a different person on the phone with an unknown name on the call display.
The McDiarmids have since been in touch with an off-duty police officer, a family friend, who has told them there is nothing he can do. Some work was hastily done after a verbal agreement. The matter potentially falls into the grey area of a dispute.
The only thing the police may be able to investigate would be the continuing threats and harassment.
Although the McDiarmids did not lose any cash in this awful situation, they concede to being “completely embarrassed.”
He and his family decided to bring this to the attention of NVN as a means of spreading the word and to warn other farmers and business owners.
Dave implores anyone who is approached by door-to-door salesmen to take extra precautions.
“Get a business number or some form of proof of their business. Have a written and signed agreement.”
“If someone can’t give you an agreement or quote, just move on.”
“These people are extremely smart and know what they’re doing. They know we (farmers) have access to capital and it’s not impossible to get a load of cash quite quickly. They know no homeowner can get cash that fast.”
“We are very smart people who have been in business for years. It’s not easy to pull something like this over people like us. They know they can come out here and start dropping names and know we would let our guard down.”
Farmers are very trusting people, especially when it comes to trusting opinions of their peers, and according to McDiarmid, these operators used that against them.
The paving gambit is, apparently, nothing new.
McDiarmid provided Nation Valley News with a link coincidentally showing the same type of unsavoury activity happening earlier this year in the Ottawa-area. An earlier report from last fall describes those involved as having “Irish” accents. Many stories also report the operators similarly telling their victims that they have a truckload of extra pavement to sell off at low cost.
Global News reported this story about a group operating in Western Canada.
OPP Detective Sergeant Ted Schendera deals with reports like this “on a daily basis” in his capacity with the province’s Anti-Rackets Branch.
He assured that no one should be embarrassed if they fall victim to these types of incidents.
“You’re not alone,” he said. Things like this “happen everyday. Not paving alone but other home repairs too. Many people are elderly. They come from a very trusting generation and these guys just want to take advantage of them,” he added.
“It doesn’t matter where you are. These scams happen all across Canada,” he continued.
The best advice he had for the affected farmers was to “get through the embarrassment and speak up. We may not be able to do much with one scam but with ten “it creates a pattern.”
“If they’re able to get as much information as possible, such as pictures, phone numbers and addresses, I would suggest to them to call OPP and report it,” explained the sergeant.
It is crucial the public be aware that situations like these can occur, and that they be prepared to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
“Don’t rush into anything. That’s the biggest thing. If they’re dropping names make sure you speak to the contact directly,” insisted the detective.
“Make sure to do your homework. If you’re not sure, then tell them you need time to think about it,” he continued.
He stressed that if the company you are dealing with is a legitimate business they will be willing to wait for you to call them. If they are in a rush, you can almost always be certain there is something wrong.
Dave McDiarmid provided the mages below showing the foreman’s truck driving away and the construction workers. He has also tried to contact the telephone number on the door of a blue and white dump truck that was also on scene (and photographed) but came to a dead end.
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