Blount County woman deceived by rip-off driveway sealant offer

Blount County woman deceived by rip-off driveway sealant offer

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Accompanied by her brother, Cloella showed us her newly sealed driveway that cost her dearly. Accompanied by her brother, Cloella showed us her newly sealed driveway that cost her dearly.
"Be careful, be on guard and use your better judgement," warned Cloella. "Be careful, be on guard and use your better judgement," warned Cloella.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

MARYVILLE (WATE) - 6 On Your Side is issuing a warning for people living in Blount County after a contractor knocked on the door of an elderly woman in late October suggesting she needed a sealant on her driveway. By the time the contractor was finished, he had received thousands of dollars for a job worth only a couple of hundred dollars.

It's one of the oldest con lines going: "We have some driveway sealer left over and we can give you a deal to coat your driveway."

Those most vulnerable to this scam are the elderly. They can say no, but often don't.

Accompanied by her brother, Cloella showed us her newly sealed driveway that cost her dearly. She asked that we not give her last name.

A widow and legally blind, the 92-year-old didn't know what she was getting into when a man knocked on her door a week before Halloween.

"So we stood in the door and talked, and finally I gave them permission to do it. Two tops of seal coat for $200. I called my brother. I told him what I was doing, I mean what they were here to do. He said 'Well, that sounded all right.'" 

Cloella kept notes. The contractor apparently said he'd provide a lifetime guarantee. He should because when he came to get his check the next day, the cost went up considerably.

"He said, 'Well they had to use some extra buckets of top coating.' and I was crazy enough to write the check, I'm sorry," said Cloella.

The check was for $2,100. Another check dated the next day was for $1,800.

"Well, that is one that he demanded that I write," explained Cloella.

Apparently finding an easy mark with this gentle lady, Cloella signed over even more money: two more checks written for $3,600 and $4,200.

"I cannot figure it out to save my life why I was ignorant enough to do it," Cloella said. She wasn't ignorant; she was taken advantage of.

Cloella made out her checks to John Flora, whom we found out is from Cookeville. He left his phone number with her.  6 On Your Side called him.

We identified ourselves, but it was a short conversation. Flora hung up as soon as we asked about Cloella.

Then at hour after that call, he phoned 6 On Your Side, but again wouldn't answer questions.

"Why would you charge a woman $11,700 to put some blacktop on a driveway?" we asked. 

He then gave the number to his attorney, but you can't get through. Instead a recorded message plays saying, "I'm sorry, but the person you called has a voice mailbox that has not been set up yet."

6 On Your Side checked with detectives from Blount County, who said it's a civil matter because Cloella signed the checks to Flora, but never received a contract.

Nevertheless, be suspicious of anyone who knocks on your door to do home repairs and never let them in your house. Say no if they claim to have leftover materials to coat or repave your driveway.

Cloella says she has learned an expensive lesson.

"Be careful, be on guard and use your better judgement," warned Cloella.

6 On Your Side reached out to John Flora several times, and even sent him a text message asking him to explain why he collected nearly $12,000, but there's been no explanation.

We also checked with a paving company in Blount County that knows Cloella.

They tell us a seal coat on that driveway would cost a maximum of $800 dollars, and paving it, putting down brand new black top, would cost about $6,000, which is nothing close to $11,700.

Again, deputies say they can't do anything.

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