By Terry Duffy
Officials from the towns of Lewiston and Porter are advising River Region residents to be on a lookout for a possible scam involving an out-of-town party seeking to perform testing on their water.
Such has been the case over past weeks. Lewiston Police report that, on Saturday Aug. 4, a resident on the 4000 block of Lower River Road contacted Niagara County 911 dispatch with a complaint of suspicious activity. According to the police blotter log, the resident said a red minivan with Pennsylvania registration was in her driveway. A white male with thinning hair and a grey beard stated to the woman that he was at the residence to test the water for the Town of Lewiston. The resident suspected a scam and declined the service. She contacted 911 and requested a Lewiston police officer.
A similar complaint was reported to the Town of Porter this past week. Supervisor Duffy Johnston said a resident contacted his office with requests by an unknown party to test the water on behalf of the town.
"A Porter resident informed me that a woman with a foreign accent called her on Friday, from a Canadian number. She said they wanted to test her water and would be there Saturday morning," Johnston said. "She told them her water was fine and hung up.
"Saturday morning, the woman called back and said their guy would be there in an hour. Her daughter answered the door and a man in his late 50s, well dressed, was there. The daughter said, 'We don't want our water checked,' and told the man to leave. He was driving a reddish-maroon vehicle with no front plate."
Johnston said the resident had similar phone inquiries in the past, but no actual visits. The woman contacted the Niagara County Sheriff's Office with her concern.
Officials from both towns said no such residential water testing is underway or being planned.
Lewiston Police Department Chief Frank Previte said all solicitors working within the Town of Lewiston are required to secure to a town permit in order to visit residences, and that none have been obtained. Johnston said a similar practice holds true for the Town of Porter.
Previte said it does not appear at this time that any residents of the town or village have fallen victim to the water testing scam.
"Most people just hung up on them," he said.
Officials said residents experiencing any such unwanted soliciting in the future should call the police.