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Arlington police arrested a Boston man on Tuesday, Jan. 17, linked to an alleged home-improvement scam targeting town residents -- the second similar scam over two days.

Jack Clarke, 23, was charged with malicious destruction of property of more than $1,200, larceny by false pretenses of more than $1,200, conspiracy and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a news release said.

On Saturday, Jan. 14, police were contacted by a resident who believed he was the victim of a construction scam. The resident reported to police that two men had charged him an excessive amount of money for home-improvement work, damaged his property and did not return to complete repairs.

On Jan. 13, police arrested three men in connection with a separate but similar scam. In cases such as this, a scammer often targets seniors for various home-improvement projects. The targeted homes typically need legitimate repairs. But a suspect often quotes a small price for a minor job, then causes damage without permission and quotes a much higher price, persuading the victim to pay a large sum upfront, promising to complete the work, but later taking the payment without completing the work.

$14,500 quote grows to $68,000 bill

In the Jan. 14 case, the victim reported to police that two men, one of whom was later identified as Clarke, quoted him $14,500 to repaint his basement. When the men began their work on the homeowner's basement, they allegedly destroyed part of the basement foundation and then persuaded the victim that repairs would cost $68,000. The victim ultimately wrote multiple checks totaling a portion of the full amount, which Clarke allegedly cashed.

In this case, the suspects also provided the victim with an apparent business contract, which alleged scammers sometimes offer to help appear as a legitimate company.

On Jan. 17, Arlington police were notified that Clarke had returned to the victim's home to collect tools and other materials left in the homeowner's basement. Clarke was approached by police, was positively identified as one of the suspects and was subsequently placed under arrest. Through their investigation, police also determined that Clarke was allegedly driving without a license.

He was arraigned in Cambridge District Court on Tuesday and was released on personal recognizance.

Chief Juliann Flaherty said in a statement:

"We encourage all Arlington residents to be aware of this type of scam and to report any suspicious activity to the police department. Individuals carrying out this type of scam often go door-to-door. We encourage residents to be wary of anyone going door-to-door offering services, and to be cautious of who they let into their home or begin work on their property without verifying the company first. Scammers often target seniors or others in our community who are vulnerable, and we will work with the district attorney's office to prosecute these cases to their fullest extent."

Tips to avoid scams:

Arlington police have shared the following tips regarding home improvement contractor scams from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

  • Scammers often approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email or by traveling door-to-door, and may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus material.
  • Scammers frequently offer their services at a very low price.
  • Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by using its home-improvement contractor registration lookup service. Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business.
  • Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked motor vehicle.
  • Request a copy of the company’s standard contract.
  • Inquire about whether the company will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last.
  • Never pay more than one-third the total cost of a service upfront, in cash, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract.

Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to any type of scam is encouraged to contact the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212.

This news summary was published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, based on information from a news release by Leah Comins of John Guilfoil Public Relations.