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Archive for Thursday, April 29, 2010

County authorities warn of summer scams

Transient merchants often work illegally

April 29, 2010

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Douglas County authorities are searching for a 49-year-old Missouri man accused of bilking an elderly couple out of $8,000 worth of paving work earlier this month.

And District Attorney Charles Branson, Sheriff Ken McGovern and state officials are warning Kansas residents to be aware of transient merchants and solicitors as the weather gets warmer.

“Generally, know who you’re doing business with, and don’t be rushed into making a decision that’s going to part you with your money,” Branson said.

Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, also a Lawrence resident, said it is common during the summer for transient merchants to appear at people’s front doors offering services such as roof repair or driveway paving. But often the businesses are operating illegally, without proper licenses or the state’s required door-to-door sales licenses, he said.

Six said consumers are often left with incomplete projects after turning over their money.

Douglas County prosecutors have filed charges of felony theft and conducting a transient business without a license, a misdemeanor, against Jerry A. Sawyer, of Buckner, Mo. Branson said prosecutors allege that Sawyer on April 14 — through the business Alan’s Asphalt — scammed a Douglas County couple out of $8,000 work on a driveway.

Branson said the work that was done was not worth $8,000.

Six’s office said investigators believe Sawyer has been active with similar scams in Kansas before and has used a variety of fake business names.

Six’s consumer protection unit has also filed a civil suit under the state’s Consumer Protection Act against Sawyer and Alan’s Asphalt, according to Douglas County court records.

Branson and McGovern said that merchants are required to register either with the city or county and that residents should always ask to see a license.

The Better Business Bureau also provides information about complaints or practices of companies.

For more information on consumer protection issues, contact Branson’s office at 785-841-0211 or the attorney general’s office at 800-432-2310 or www.ksag.org.

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