Police warn that door-to-door scams are on the rise

Door-to-door scams continue to pose a threat to Ontario consumers and businesses, reports the Ontario Provincial Police, noting suspect individuals may use high-pressure tactics and can be aggressive. Consumers may find themselves in a situation where they purchase a product or sign up for a service they neither need nor want.

Police report that they have received an increased number of complaints from homeowners across the province who have been solicited by individuals attending their residences to sell certain household appliances, contracts and/or services.  

Fraudsters approach individuals in person at the door to their home and use compelling tactics to persuade the homeowner or occupant that a new appliance, contract or service is required.

Soon after the purchase or installation of the household appliances, contracts and/or services, the victims are contacted by someone claiming to be from a law firm offering a solution to exit the previously signed contracts, remove possible liens and consolidate the incurred debts. Victims are told they may be eligible to receive an award for a significant amount of money if they sign off on exiting the contract. 

As a condition of the award, the victims are contacted by a home renovation company and ultimately are persuaded to sign a contract, which they are led to believe is required to comply with energy efficiency obligations related to the award, police explain. 

The fraudsters then use the signed documents to obtain a mortgage or secondary mortgage on the victim’s home. The funds are then deposited into the victim’s bank account, leading the victims’ to believe they have received the award, which is actually funds from the home equity mortgage taken out on their home. As a condition of the award, victims are instructed to pay the renovation company the proceeds of the award to comply with the terms of the judgement.

In 2020, the Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 1,641 complaints related to service scams affecting 863 Ontario residents, for a loss of $2,878,898.  In 2021, the CAFC received 127 reports from Ontario victims, with a reported loss of $695,454.   Door‐to‐door scams reported to the CAFC include solicitations or a service scam involving the sale or maintenance of an appliance. 

Police advise homeowners to know their rights. On Mar. 1, 2018, Ontario banned unsolicited, door‐to‐door sales of certain household appliances to better protect consumers from aggressive and misleading contracting at home. The new rules apply to air cleaners, air conditioners, air purifiers, duct cleaning services, furnaces, water filters, water heaters, water purifiers, water softeners, water treatment devices as well as bundles of these goods and services.

On Jan. 1, 2017, Ontario banned energy retailers from signing up customers for an energy contract while at their homes to give consumers the ability to make choices about their energy supply at their own pace and with better information.

If you believe you have become a victim of fraud, contact your local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 (toll-free) or report online at www.antifraudcentre.ca.  You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or report the incident online at www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca.

SEPTEMBER 30

2:27 AM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of a theft from a motor vehicle on Parkhaven Drive in St. Jacobs. The suspects were trying vehicle door handles and were last seen heading towards King Street North in an older model vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8777

6:35 AM | Police responded to reports of a collision at the roundabout near St. Jacobs. The driver of a vehicle was travelling north on Arthur Street and entered the roundabout to continue northbound. The driver of the second vehicle was travelling west on Sawmill Road and failed to yield as they entered the roundabout. The driver, a 50-year-old man, was charged with ‘fail to yield.’ No injuries were reported.

1:30 PM | Wellington County OPP received a report of a possible drunk driver on St. David Street in Fergus. It was reported that a driver of a grey sedan was possibly impaired. Police patrolled the area and located the driver. Officers formed the opinion that the driver was impaired by alcohol. The driver was arrested and brought to a local OPP Operations Centre for further testing. As a result, a 58-year-old Fergus man was charged with ‘impaired operation’ and ‘impaired operation – 80-plus.’ His licence was suspended for 90 days and his vehicle impounded for a week. He is to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice – Guelph on October 26.

OCTOBER 1

11:54 PM | Waterloo Regional Police received a report of property damage at Breslau Memorial Park on Joseph Street. The investigation determined that sometime between 11:15 and 11:45 p.m., a portable washroom had been flipped on its side, though there was no damage to the structure. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

OCTOBER 2

9:26 AM | A collision brought police to Arthur and Wyatt streets in Elmira. Through investigation, it was determined that a vehicle was travelling south on Arthur Street South and had stopped in traffic. Another vehicle was also travelling south on Arthur Street South and collided with the stopped vehicle. A 20-year-old Wellington County woman was charged with ‘careless driving.’

11:15 PM | Wellington County OPP received a report of an injured person on Elgin Street, Fergus. Initial reports indicated that a passenger on a golf cart had been ejected and was being transported to a local hospital by paramedics. Police responded and while speaking with the driver formed the opinion that the operator was impaired by alcohol. Police made a demand for a breath sample and attempted to conduct a roadside screening test with the operator, however they refused.  As a result of the investigation, a 29-year-old Fergus man was charged with ‘failure to comply with a demand for breath’ and ‘failing to stop after an accident.’ His licence was suspended for 90 days and his vehicle impounded for a week. He is to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice – Guelph on November 5.

OCTOBER 3

3:17 AM | Sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 3 a.m., an unknown suspect spray painted vulgar language on the victims’ vehicle that was parked at an address on Nafziger Road in Wellesley. The paint did not cause any permanent damage to the vehicle. Police have no suspects at this time.

6:17 AM | Waterloo Regional Police responded to an altercation at a party at a house on Manser Road in Wellesley Township.

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