East-end homeowners targeted in roofing scams


It’s a springtime tradition in Toronto.

With the disappearance of ice and snow, the demand for roof repairs increases, along with roof fraud posing a threat to homeowners.

Workers disguised as roofers are notorious for knocking on homeowners’ doors and offering to inspect their roofs for free. Then they would claim problems with the roof before claiming upfront costs for the repair.

This type of fraudulent scam has been common in East York for several years. The Toronto Observer has reported several stories of roof fraud in the community, such as when senior citizens and their homes were targeted in March 2014.

“It’s a good idea to thoroughly research any roofing company you’re considering to make sure they’re well-known and well-reviewed.”

said in a post by AccuSeal Roofing Ltd.

The latest incident happened last month when a man allegedly posed as a roofer while offering to inspect a roof in Riverdale that he had damaged himself.

Police say homeowners heard loud banging on the roof of their home on Langley and Logan Avenues before the man returned and informed them of a hole in their roof.

According to police, the man advised he could repair it for a fee before leaving the area.

James O’Brien, 21, allegedly claimed he was a roofer and offered a free inspection of a roof at a house in Riverdale. (Toronto Police Service)

The homeowners later checked their roof and discovered the damage.

Toronto Police later arrested 21-year-old James O’Brien on a charge of mischief/property criminal damage of no more than $5,000.

Paul Indrigo, a Toronto real estate agent and host of the Real Estate Podcast Show, has observed contractor scams for many years.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better,” said Indrigo. “The sad truth is that there will always be bad people. Every industry has them.”

Recognizing an umbrella fraud

In a post from AccuSeal Roofing Ltd., a Toronto roofing contractor, the typical roofing scam “sees the contractor agreeing to replace or repair the roof, but requiring the customer to pay upfront.”

They say reputable companies don’t ask homeowners for upfront payments and the inspections are supplementary.

“It’s a good idea to thoroughly research any roofing company you’re considering to make sure they’re well-known and well-reviewed,” the post reads.

AccuSeal also advises homeowners to be wary of companies that ask for cash. It’s a common form of payment used by experienced scammers because it’s difficult to trace.

Indrigo created a program, the Renovation Bootcamp Experience, to reward homeowners who “do their homework before they ever hire anyone.”

“I was trying to protect people from these scammers,” Indrigo said. “I have made it my goal to help protect my customers.”

Recent cases of roof fraud

In November 2022, CityNews reported that a couple in Toronto’s East End paid suspected contractors $6,000 in cash up front after they received counseling on several issues related to their roof and eaves.

“We told them we could write them a check, but they made a big deal about cash being better, so I went to the bank and got the money,” the woman told CityNews at the time.

The workers told the couple that they would start work the next day. Hours later, the husband decided to examine the roof and eaves, but found no problems.

They immediately called to cancel the project and demanded a refund of the deposit paid. A few weeks later, the funds were never returned as promised by the workers.

Around the same time, CityNews reported a similar incident that occurred a few blocks from where the couple lived.

The family was told a raccoon was spotted on their roof, and they paid the alleged contractors $1,000 to fix it. MB Roofing and Masonry is the company involved in both cases, whose address given was a PO Box at a UPS store.