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Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for three charged by Arlington police in a home-improvement scam.

Arrested after police posed as customers were Peter Gilheney, 21, of Quincy; Richard Gilheney, 18, of Randolph; and Patrick Gilheney, 18, of Quincy.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, an elderly Arlington resident notified police of a potential scam after three men charged him an excessive amount of money for home-improvement work and damaged his property.

Low quote, then damage

A news release called this "a common scam" that often targets seniors for various home-improvement projects. The targeted homes are typically in need of legitimate repairs. However, the suspect often quote a very small price for a minor job and then damage a chimney, front steps, retaining wall, roof or another part of the home, without permission from the homeowner.

The suspect will then quote a much higher price and convince the victim to pay a large sum upfront, promising to complete the work, but later taking the payment without completing the work.

The victim reported to police that three, later identified as those arrested, quoted him $200 to fix a small crack in his front steps, the news release said.

The trio returned a few days later and allegedly ripped out the front steps without the victim's permission and quoted the victim $6,000 for repairs. The victim ultimately wrote a check for a portion of the total amount, which was allegedly cashed by the suspects. The victim attempted to get his check back, but was unsuccessful.

Police pose as customers

On Jan. 13, Arlington police detectives posed as potential customers and contacted the suspects. When the three arrived to a predetermined location, approached them.

The three were positively identified as those who allegedly damaged the victim's property and took his check, and all three were arrested without incident.

While at the scene, police also determined that Peter Gilheney was allegedly driving without a license, and that the vehicle's registration plates were associated with a different vehicle.

Peter was charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, number plate violation to conceal identification. He, Richard and Patrick were charged with malicious destruction of property of more than $1,200 and larceny by false pretenses of more than $250.

All three, arraigned in Cambridge District Court Jan. 13, were released on personal recognizance.

Tips to avoid scams:

Arlington police have shared the following tips regarding home improvement contractor scams from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

  • Scammers often approach potential victims for home improvement scams by phone, email or by traveling door-to-door, and may claim they’ve been performing work locally and have surplus material.
  • Scammers frequently offer their services at a very low price.
  • Check to make sure the contractor is registered with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by using its home-improvement contractor registration lookup service. Request a business card or website address for the contractor’s business.
  • Be wary if the individual is driving an unmarked motor vehicle.
  • Request a copy of the company’s standard contract.
  • Inquire about whether the company will provide a warranty and how long that warranty will last.
  • Never pay more than one-third the total cost of a service upfront, in cash, and only do so once you have verified that this person is a registered home improvement contractor and you have a contract.

Anyone who believes they have fallen victim to any type of scam is encouraged to contact the Arlington Police Department at 781-643-1212


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This news summary was published Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, based on information from a news release by Ashley Fairchild of John Guilfoil Public Relations.