Ironton police warn of possible scammers

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2004

An elderly Ironton woman has lost $18,200 in a roofing scam.

Now, Ironton police are warning others to beware so they do not become victims as well.

Capt. Jerry Leach said local authorities are looking for Matthew Shane Seal, 19, of Kimball, W.Va., and that Seal will likely face theft by deception charges stemming from the incident that happened April 1.

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Seal also faces charges stemming from similar incidents in West Virginia and Alabama. All of these incidents involved taking money from elderly people.

According to Leach, Seal allegedly knocked on the victim's door and told her that her roof was leaking. After speaking with her for a while and obtaining her confidence, Seal allegedly convinced the woman to sign three personal checks, leaving the amounts on each check blank so he could fill in the amount himself. No repairs were ever made to the woman's roof.

"He is wanted in Fayette County, W.Va. for fraud and swindling and it's the same thing there," Leach said. "He's preying on elderly people with roofing jobs. He is also wanted in Geneva County, Ala. We know that he approached at least one couple out in the county here (in Lawrence County) about a roof repair, but they didn't lose any money."

Leach said neighbors of the elderly Ironton woman said they saw at least one other person with Seal, and authorities in West Virginia said they believe he may be a part of a ring of 15 -20

scam artists who travel the region looking for susceptible elderly people.

Avoid being a victim

Police offer the following tips for dealing with potential scam artists:

€ Be aware of people in your neighborhood and report any suspicious activity.

€ Check references: "If they are reputable business people, they won't mind

the police coming by to make sure the people are who they say they are," Ironton Police Capt. Jerry Leach said.

€ Never give anyone a blank check or a signed check that does not have the amount filled in.