One man has a hard-luck story about his vehicle, while the other poses as a handyman looking to be paid for completed work.
Neither is telling the truth, and the Abbotsford Police Department is warning the public that the two fraudsters – both in their 40s – are operating in the city, targeting mainly seniors.
Const. Ian MacDonald said police have not been successful in having charges laid against either culprit, who are not linked to one another.
“Our belief is that these incidents certainly have a lot of elements similar to fraud … but it isn’t enough to go with for a criminal prosecution with any likely possibility of conviction,” he said.
One man has been active in Abbotsford for about two years, and police have received 21 complaints about him so far in 2011, MacDonald said.
He operates in the Clearbrook corridor, mainly in the area between Marshall and Maclure roads, and approaches people at places such as gas stations, restaurants, seniors’ complexes and along the street.
He tells them that either his car has been towed or he has locked his keys and wallet in his vehicle. He then says it will cost anywhere from $40 to $100 to have his car removed from the tow yard or to have it unlocked.
MacDonald said the man is also known to refer to his Christian beliefs and often tells his victims that he goes to the same church as they do.
In some instances, he has sat down in people’s vehicles or walked into their homes.
“He’s pretty persistent. We’ve talked to some people after the fact who said, ‘I just wanted to get rid of him.’ ”
MacDonald said police have spoken with him several times, but with no charges laid, he continues his behaviour. He is described as about 5’ 10”, 200 pounds, with short brown hair and glasses.
MacDonald said the other man is more aggressive. Police began receiving complaints earlier this month that he was approaching people in townhouse complexes and condo developments, telling them he was owed money for manual labour he had completed.
MacDonald said he usually asks for about $250 for vague things such as cleaning the ducts or adjusting the alarm system – services that are difficult to confirm immediately with a building manager or strata council.
The man becomes belligerent when questioned about his claims. Police have identified him and discovered he is from out of the province and has a history of assault, theft, break-ins, and fraud.
He is described as about 5’ 7”, about 200 pounds with a stocky build, and balding.
Police would like people to report any interactions they have with either man, although MacDonald said the only option they have for retrieving money they may have lost is to sue the culprits in civil court.
The Abbotsford Police can be reached at 604-859-5225.