Gypsy home improvement scams are specific type of scam involving individuals or groups of individuals who move around claiming to provide “home improvement” services for a fee. They may travel from neighborhood to neighborhood collecting fees in advance for work, often from unsuspecting home owners and elderly property owners.

The scam is so named because of the fact that the groups travel from place to place, making it difficult to track them down.

How Do Gypsy Home Improvement Scams Work?

A main characteristic of these types of scams is that the scammer will always ask to collect the fees up front before the work is done. Then, the person or group will disappear with the fee, leaving the work unfinished or not started.

The scam usually involves:

  • Doing work that is partially undone or substandard
  • Not performing the work or renovations at all
  • Using unauthorized or undocumented workers
  • Using illegal methods or materials
  • Presenting fake credentials

Some scams may also involve home improvement loan fraud as well.

What Are the Legal Penalties for Home Improvement Scams?

Like any type of scam or fraud scheme, gypsy home improvement scams will result in legal consequences for the parties that are found to be involved in them. These can include criminal consequences like fines, short jail time, and loss of business license if the group is actually licensed, which they usually are not.

In addition, home improvement scams may result in civil claims for the economic damages caused by the substandard work. For instance, the scammers may be held liable for property damage, costs of materials, costs of completing work, and other costs.

How Can I Avoid Being a Victim of a Home Improvement Scam?

One of the main difficulties in a gypsy scam is that the group is hard to find or track down once they disappear. They may move to an entirely different state after a while. Also, the people involved may be using fictitious names and contact information. Therefore, before having any home improvement work done, you should always confirm the worker’s names, business info, contact information, and credentials. You should call numbers to make sure that those numbers are working. Additionally, avoid making full payments on work before it’s completed.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Home Scams?

Gypsy home improvement scams are common for new homeowners with empty yards that need reworking. You may need to hire a real estate lawyer if you have been a victim of a home improvement scam. Your attorney can help determine what your options are given the evidence and the facts involved. Home improvement scams can result in significant legal damages and consequences if a lawsuit or legal action is filed.