Archive for January 12th, 2011

A Scam as Easy as 3-1-1

January 12, 2011

NYT: By JIM DWYER
Published: March 12, 2010

By flooding the city’s 311 line with phony building complaints, someone has put thousands of homeowners in Queens under a state of bureaucratic siege.

And while no one has been identified with certainty as the source of the calls, citizen investigators have pieced together enough scraps of information to draw the outline of a money-making racket by home-improvement scamsters.

On the morning of the last big snowstorm in February, Joseph Choi spotted two city building inspectors on his block, 156th Street in Flushing, talking to a neighbor.

“Everyone thought they were coming about shoveling the sidewalk, and it was still coming down hard,” Mr. Choi said. But it turned out the inspectors were checking a report made to the 311 line that the owners of the house had illegally turned a basement into an apartment.

The following week, the inspectors were back, knocking on more doors, rattling more nerves.

(more…)


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