Beware: The Shocking Truth about Shingles Repair Scams!

Beware: The Shocking Truth about Shingles Repair Scams! There is a sucker born every minute!

I usually write about medicine and economics. In fact, I have written several non-fiction books dealing with medical topics (see the links below), so now, for fun, I am trying my hand at creative writing. Therefore, I must warn you that this blog post is a work of fiction!

My disclaimer, which I worked on with my new best friend, ChatGPT, goes like this: “The characters, events, and situations depicted in this blog post are purely fictional and any resemblance to real people, places, or events is purely coincidental. This blog post is intended for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as a representation of fact or reality.”

The Classic Shingles Repair Scam

The classic “shingles repair scam” goes like this: There is a tipsy (vulnerable) old man in California, there is a hurricane, and a few shingles are blown off his roof. A $3,000 repair is legitimately needed.

An out-of-town roofer comes in. The elderly man, we’ll call him Tipsy, is told, “No matching replacement shingles exist.”

After Tipsy accepts this lie, he is told, “But wait there’s more. It’s much worse than we thought, all your shingles are bad!” Tipsy takes the roofer's word for it, he's not going to go up on the roof, he can't even get up on a step stool anymore because of vertigo. 

Before Tipsy has time to think, there’s more! “We must replace your entire roof for $100,000 otherwise your house is going to flood and be destroyed when the rainy season comes.”

Tipsy is taken aback. He does not have $100,000 in his checking account. He doesn't even have $3,000 in his checking account. 

“It’s simple, you just take out a home equity loan, because you have a roofing emergency,” the con man says. “Don’t you realize that if these shingles explode and your roof falls down, your kitchen will be flooded. The rain will come down on your appliances, and you will have to replace everything! It will cost you tens of thousands of dollars! Maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars!”

The roofer's sense of urgency was hitting Tipsy where he hurt. He loved to cook. The con man kept the pressure on Tipsy with more half-truths to create an even greater false sense of urgency. At one point, the con man even had Tipsy believing that the shingles on his roof had been put up by a scammer thirty years ago, a scammer who used “dog-house" shingles instead of real shingles meant for a residential roof.

“The dog-house shingles are cheap asphalt shingles,” the con man told Tipsy, and he even showed Tipsy a cheap looking asphalt shingle. “These are just like yours.” To demonstrate, the con man crumbled the cheap shingles in his hands.

It was the classic “bait and switch” technique used by scammers everywhere and Tipsy fell for it “hook line and sinker” as they say.

The out-of-town roofer also told Tipsy that he “felt sorry for him” and would give him a “great deal.” “But Tipsy,” he said, “You can’t tell anyone about this deal, you have to keep it a secret from your friends, family, neighbors, and everyone else. Why, I’d go broke if people knew I was giving out deals like this.”

Tipsy never learned the basic information, such as the risk of a roof leak, or the make, model, and cost of the new shingles versus the old shingles. He never even uncovered that matching shingles were available and were being used seemingly everywhere. 

Tipsy borrowed $100,000 from his bank to pay the roofer, and he dutifully kept the entire project a secret, because he had promised to do so for the nice roofer. Besides, there was pressure in the neighborhood to keep things like this a secret. Apparently, the con artist had planted a few seeds of discontent to keep the neighbors apart.

Tipsy went broke and had to move out. But even when it was explained to Tipsy in excruciating detail how he got scammed, Tipsy would not believe it!

Why can’t people who get scammed admit it? Well, it is embarrassing. There were allegedly people who defended Charles Ponzi almost to the bitter end.

Con men are smart, although a con woman, Big Bertha Heyman, may have been the smartest. Big Bertha allegedly scammed a rabbi and the Beth Israel Congregation!

The movie, Funny Girl, is allegedly about a con man named Nicky Arnstein, who was also a suave gambler. He allegedly did swindles with stocks and bonds, and he died in Fort Leavenworth prison.

The Ladies Deposit Company was allegedly a scam, and allegedly some victims kept up their support for Sarah Howe, long after it became obvious that she was scamming people.

One con man, Oscar Hartzell, scammed people with the last name, Drake, by telling them he wanted to give them their inheritance from Sir Frances Drake. Even after Oscar Hartzell went into Leavenworth prison, people named Drake kept sending him money!  

Tipsy is special, because he still has no idea that he was a victim of the “shingles repair scam.” As you might guess, he has already been scammed again, and the latest scam was literally done “right under his nose.”

Roofing scams are so successful in California, and allegedly in other warm weather places, that sometimes homeowners almost literally scam themselves! Sadly, consumer fraud experts say that variations of the “shingles repair scam” are still going on today.

Why can't people admit that they have been scammed out of their money?

 I had a conversation with ChatGPT and asked her/him why people can’t admit they got scammed, even when it is so painfully obvious to everyone that they got scammed.

My friend ChatGPT had this to say:

 “There can be several reasons why people might find it difficult to admit they have been scammed:

 “Shame or embarrassment: They may feel ashamed or embarrassed that they fell for a scam and didn't see it coming.

 “Denial: They may be in denial about the situation and believe that the scammer will come through on their promises.

 “Fear of consequences: They may fear the consequences of admitting that they have been scammed, such as legal repercussions, damage to their reputation, or loss of face.

 “Trust: They may have trusted the scammer and feel a strong emotional attachment to them, making it difficult to admit that they have been taken advantage of.

 “Regardless of the reason, it's important for people to speak out about scams so that others can be aware and avoid falling for similar scams in the future. Additionally, reporting scams can help law enforcement bring the scammers to justice.”

 Wow, that last line was a doozy! “It’s important for people to speak out about scams!”

 I must give some credit to ChatGPT!

ChatGPT is “ AI model developed by OpenAI.” While writing this blog post, I had several conversations with “OpenAI's GPT-3 language model.” Thus, OpenAI was the source for some of this content. ChatGPT asked that I give some links:



Books by BradMD – URLs:

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Surviving Prostate Cancer Without Surgery - Paperback


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The Prostatitis Syndromes 2nd Edition: Waking at Night to Urinate, Prostatitis, Chronic Prostatitis, BPH, Acute Urinary Retention, Anatomy, Pelvic Pain, Sex, and Men's Health Explained - Hardcover

Uncles and Etymology - Kindle Edition


The Alligator Etymologist: Big Words # 1 - Paperback


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BradMD said...

"Konnikova says all con artists share some mixture of three traits: psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism."

BradMD said...

"Machiavellianism is a personality trait that denotes cunningness, the ability to be manipulative, and a drive to use whatever means necessary to gain power. Machiavellianism is one of the traits that forms the Dark Triad, along with narcissism and psychopathy.",along%20with%20narcissism%20and%20psychopathy.

BradMD said...

According to Wikipedia, at least one con man was a murderer.
"Tom O'Brien (c. 1851 − September 29, 1904) was an American confidence man and swindler during the late 19th century. He was popularly known as "King of the Banco Men"..."
He got into a fight with another man over money and he allegedly shot and killed the man.