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Elderly woman a victim of tricky scheme

Published On: May 09 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: May 10 2013 06:18:49 PM EDT

A Berks County woman is the latest to fall victim to a tricky scheme.


A Berks County woman is the latest to fall victim to a tricky scheme.

Scammers are ripping people off, and the problem is becoming widespread, said police.

"I felt terrible, I been staying at night over with my sister because I'm so scared yet," said Margaret Manmiller, who thought she was getting a good deal sealing her driveway.


Manmiller, 82, was cutting her grass Tuesday afternoon when two men approached her to resurface the driveway at her home in Maidencreek Twp., Berks Co. She offered her help and even a drink for the workers. Now, she is left disgusted and empty handed.

"That's what I would tell him, you took all my money," said Manmiller. "He said to me I need to hook up a hose so they could water it down, he didn't even help and I was all black and blue from that."

She agreed to pay $1,200 for the work on Tuesday, but it turns out the pair of cold-hearted crooks stole her hard earned money.  

"I went in the bedroom to get the money and I heard something upstairs and I thought what in the world is that, boom boom boom," Manmiller said.

The men followed her inside. They kept upping the price, and Manmiller eventually handed over $1,500. One man distracted her, while the other stole an envelope with $800 he saw her put in the refrigerator, said police.

The men are described as Hispanic, about 40-years-old and drove a dark grey pick-up with a silver tank in the rear.

According to police, they see an increase in home improvement scams during the warmer weather, and nine out of ten times the crooks prey on senior citizens.

"They're pretty good in what they say and how they talk, I'm just lucky I told them no," said Mary Wechezak, who was approached with the same smooth-talking sell but didn't bite.

According to police, the men have struck before in Montgomery and Lancaster counties.

"If someone is coming to your house offering to do work, ask for references and ask for business cards," said Ofc. Charles Hobart, Northern Berks Regional Police Dept.

It's a hard lesson learned for Manmiller. Now, she's hoping no one else falls victim.

If you know anything that can help police stop that scam, call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913.