Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Scammer nailed by quick-thinking Edmonton roofer

Canadian Contractor

Allen Shaw was nearly taken in by a bogus client taking aim at his bank account

It was a weekend in early November, and his team were enjoying some time off. So when Allen Shaw, owner of A. Shaw Roofing in Edmonton, received a text requesting a home roof replacement quote, he went to the address himself. Shaw drew up the quote, emailed it to the address supplied and received a go-ahead by text 10 minutes later.

Shaw had noticed the house seemed unoccupied and a ‘For Sale’ sign was on the lawn. That isn’t entirely unusual in itself, Shaw explained to Canadian Contractor. Absentee owners and landlords do request quotes and order work on homes from time to time.

The Edmonton home looked innocent enough to Allen Shaw, but it was being used to develop a scam

The Edmonton home looked innocent enough to Allen Shaw, but it was being used to develop a scam

However, Shaw started to smell a rat when his request to meet the client was turned down to ‘health care issues. “I decided to do some research” Shaw wrote on his company blog. “I took a picture of the Realtor’s sign which had a phone number. I called the realtor. I told her that the new home owner “Josh Lawrence” had contacted me to get a roof proposal for the home.” The realtor had never heard of “Josh Lawrence” and told Shaw the house had not been sold.

The number given to Shaw for contacting Lawrence turned out to be a ‘protected number’ in Florida that could only receive text messages.


Determined to get to the bottom of this, Shaw then texted “Josh’ and asked for a call-back. A man with a heavy accent identifying himself “Josh” said he was calling from Indiana, where he was receiving treatment for cancer. He couldn’t meet with Shaw but still wanted the work to go ahead. Asked how he would pay for the work, estimated to be about $6,000, “Josh” said he would transfer the funds into Shaw’s company bank account once he had the relevant information.

Shaw got creative. Knowing the scam was ’on’, Shaw played along further. “Those are beautiful new rose bushes around the property you have” said Shaw, knowing that in fact there were no such plants. “Josh” agreed, saying “his loving wife planted them as she loves flowers.”

Shaw then told “Josh” that the jig was up; he knew the house was not sold, that he had no connection to the house at all, and that the realtor had never heard of him. After a brief pause, the phone went dead.

Be on the lookout!
Although this story received wide media coverage in the Edmonton area, Shaw has not received any follow-up either from the Edmonton Police or Consumer Alberta. Nevertheless, Shaw wants contractors across Canada to be aware of this attempted scam.  “They may even have local partners that visit the site to ensure the property is vacant, then hire a contractor to perform exterior renovations to the home as entrance or access to the home is not required. When the work is complete, the contractor provides bank account information which the scammer can then use to empty the company’s account. A smaller, less tech-savy or experienced company looking for some business might easily get fooled by something like this and get into a real mess.”


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2 Comments » for Scammer nailed by quick-thinking Edmonton roofer
  1. nick says:

    I would have opened a bank account with a $10 balance and then waited a few days and texted him telling him the work was done and forwarded the banking information.

    After he tries to take the money you now have a legal door to charge him and/ or the authorities to follow thru.

    It is incredible how in this day and age that people can actually get away with this.

    I am sure that if someone tried to steal money from a banking instution that they would find them and charge them.

    At least do something to shut them down. It is just so sad that fraud is happening so openly.


  2. Bill McCance says:

    I also received scam emails from a (chinese) man claiming to own a West Van home, but he didnt. I sent someone around to photograph the home for the unknown renovations and to measure. I noticed in the photos was a realtors sign. I then called the realtor to find out the home had not been sold and th scammer had another roofer on site already to measure up.

    The scammer sent me a $41,000.00 cheque from a law office in Toronto and it was mailed in Canada. I sent the cheque and emails to my bank and asked them to contact the police. I also received a second cheque for $67,000 and sent that to the bank. I got emails from the scammer periodically to ask about them.

    I knew pretty much from the beginning it was going to be a scam as the language of the inquiries was extremely poor and there was no definite renovation scope. Also the scope of work was for maybe $25,000 max for the roof reno, so why would he send me much more. He said ( in very poor language) that I should also pay some of the mortgage.

    very stupid scammer

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