Coastal Breeze News has been alerted to a scam involving water testing that has affected a few Marco Island residents.
The scam involves a homeowner being contacted by someone offering free water quality testing. It may be through a postcard, letter or phone call. The caller may sound very “official,” as if he were calling from the state or the county. Once the scammer is at the home, he will conduct a “water test” that will indicate the homeowner’s water is unsafe. The scammer will then begin a hard sell of a water filtration/purification system at an inflated price.
One homeowner was suspicious after being told that his water was “contaminated” and insisted on keeping the water sample that had been “tested” by the water purification company. The homeowner then took a sample of his tap water to the Water Department utility on the island, which was sent to an outside independent lab. The water was found to be within normal, safe limits.
The re-tested water samples found iron at .039 parts per million, which is considered “undetectable.” The scammer had inflated the figures by 40 times, advising the homeowner that his water was high in iron.
A Marco Island consumer has filed a Better Business Bureau complaint against one such water purification company. His initial contact with the company came from a postcard offering free water testing. The consumer was misled to believe that his water was unsafe to drink, and a purification system would not only make the water safe to drink, it would also taste better. He purchased the $1,295 system but noticed no improvement in the taste of her water. After many complaints to the company, they installed a “replacement system,” which he says is valued at $159. The company not only refused to provide a refund, the salesperson was verbally abusive and insulting towards the homeowner.
Residents should be aware that scammers will sound like they are just testing the water for quality assurance. However, once the scammer is in the home, he will pressure the homeowner to purchase a water filtration system, using inflated test results and any other means necessary.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, contact your local police department at its non-emergency number.