SANTA CRUZ -- The Santa Cruz District Attorney's Office is warning residents about recent scams that appear to target senior citizens.

Residents are warned to be wary of unsolicited offers from people posing as licensed contractors who just happen to be in the neighborhood. These offers may included driveway coating, roof coating and landscape work, among other home improvements.

Typically the people making these offers do not hold valid state contractors licenses and are simply tricking the residents into paying for unnecessary, expensive repairs of little to no value. The offers usually result in substandard work done using substandard products, District Attorney Bob Lee said Thursday.

In one such case, an Aptos resident reported that she was visited by an unlicensed contractor who told her that her driveway needed recoating.

She did not remember at the time that she had paid a local, licensed pavement contractor to resurface her driveway just three weeks prior.

The individual posing as a contractor charged her $2,000 to recoat the driveway and used only a thin, water-based coating. The work was "substandard and unnecessary," Lee said.

The man returned two weeks later and told her she owed him more money, although he hadn't done any other work. He drove her to her bank, where she withdrew $1,800 cash and gave it to him.

The DA's Office is investigating the case. The suspect is believed to have committed similar crimes in Marin and Sacramento counties.


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The DA's Consumer Affairs Division also is looking into false and misleading claims being made by recently opened fortune teller, psychic reading and palm reader businesses throughout the county. A number of people have complained to the office that some of these businesses are advertising low rates for readings and then convincing unwary, susceptible individuals to pay thousands of dollars for services such as "improving karma" and "improving relationships."

One woman reportedly paid $19,000 to a Santa Cruz fortune teller during a period of three months.

Residents are advised to avoid paying large sums of money to so-called fortune tellers in the hopes of good luck or life changes.

To report a possible scam or ask questions, the District Attorney's Consumer Affairs Division advises residents to call 454-2050.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96