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Coping with the Flooding | More problems

Alert issued on scammers

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / March 31, 2010

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There is no such thing as the Boston Water Disaster Department.

Police want you to know that so you don’t get hit twice from the recent rains: once when your property gets damaged, and again when a con artist comes calling at your door looking to rob you.

The Boston Police Department issued its community advisory yesterday after an 84-year-old Allston couple were robbed of thousands of dollars by a man posing as an inspector for a bogus government agency. The man allegedly told the couple on Saturday he needed to inspect the basement of their Mansfield Street home because a neighboring basement had been flooded. Once inside, the man told the couple he needed to check something upstairs and told them to remain downstairs.

The couple went back upstairs after about 15 minutes to find the man was gone and $7,500 had been taken from a safe and hundreds more stolen from elsewhere in the home.

“Sadly, often times when a natural disaster occurs, you’d be surprised with some of the scams people come up . . . to take advantage of people,’’ said Officer James Kenneally, a Boston Police spokesman. Kenneally said scam artists often target the elderly, but he added that anyone could be victimized, especially after a disaster. Residents should be on their guard when someone they don’t know knocks on their door under the auspices of “official business,’’ Kenneally said.

“Residents are asked to be highly suspicious or wary of any individual or individuals wishing to gain entry inside your home,’’ police said in the advisory.

Anyone with information on the Allston incident, or others, is asked to call the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 800-494-TIPS or text the word TIP to CRIME (27463).

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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