Scammed Couple Warns of Lightning Rod Salesman
By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9
ELMORE CITY, Oklahoma -- Spring time brings the dangers of severe weather and a new kind of home repair scam.
Bennie Mercer has five new lightning rods, but he'd rather have his money back. Last month a man approached him while he was working in his garden.
"He told me...about this lighting rod protection business," Mercer said. "I said, ‘Oh, I guess it will be alright. So what is it going to cost me?"
Robert Andress told Mercer it would cost around $80. It was a classic case of bait and switch.
"Mr. Mercer stayed outside," Garvin County Undersheriff Steve Brooks said. "Mrs. Mercer was in the house. They installed a supposed lightning rod system and told Mrs. Mercer, it was $8,800, and she cut them a check."
Ruth Mercer had some doubts.
"I didn't know. They said that Bennie gave the okay," Ruth Mercer said. "I try to do what he tells me, most of the time."
Despite her misgivings, she wrote a check to Robert Andress for $8,800.
Once they compared notes, the Mercers realized they had been had. They immediately called their bank to stop the check, but it was too late
Using fraudulent identification, the man who called himself Robert Andress had already cashed the check at a Wynnewood bank.
"I'm not sure we'll ever get the money back, but if it could stop somebody else from getting scammed like we did, it would be worth it to me," Ruth Mercer said.
Adding insult to injury, an electrician has found the lightning rods won't work. Bennie Mercer hopes to see the con artists again.
"If they show up, the buzzards will find them," Bennie Mercer said.
Investigators said three men were working the scam.
Anyone with information regarding this scam is encouraged to call the Garvin County Sheriff's Office at (405) 238-7591.