Police in Berks County are warning against a new phone scam that targets victims of this year's destructive hailstorm.
"Criminals are people that play on opportunity, and this is certainly a big opportunity," said Chief Ted Roth, Birdsboro Police Department.
According to Roth, scammers are calling local residents and posing as roofers seeking business. The calls come from random local numbers that are "spoofed."
"The 'spoofing' is done online, where you can make a call and disguise your phone number and have another person's phone number show up on the caller ID," said Roth.
So far this week, scammers have dialed people in Birdsboro and Amity and Union townships, most often posing as a man named "Joe," police said.
"This is prime territory for scammers who make an initial call, and if they make any headway, I suspect they're going to try to get some money from people upfront and then never show up," Roth said.
Fortunately, police said that no one has reportedly fallen for the scam, although recipients have reported being called by the scammers repeatedly.
"We get calls two or three times a day," said Bob Morgan. "They ask where you're located... 'we'll come out and give you a bid and we'll do your job... but we need half the money up front when we come to your house.'"
"Beware. Just beware," said Morgan. "Don't give them any information that you don't feel comfortable giving."
Roth advised that people never send money to businesses soliciting upfront payments over the telephone.
He said that a legitimate roofing company that's soliciting business will have a permit to do so from borough hall.
"Please don't send any money," said Roth. "People need to be more aware because there are more and more scam artists out there preying on our citizens and we want to educate them as much as we can to help them help themselves."
Residents who 69 News spoke with across Berks County are saddened to learn of the new scam.
"It feels like we're hard working people out here and they're trying to take advantage of us," said Kenny Fleck.
Wife Terry Fleck agreed.
"It is a shame. It makes you feel very uncomfortable. There's so much of that going on."
Anyone who believes they were called by the scammers is asked to record the telephone number and contact police.