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North County residents are being warned the so-called “fertilizer scam” has returned with several variations, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office has received multiple reports of people going from door to door soliciting for a “fertilization and aeration” of lawns service and of residents being victimized

In one reported instance, an elderly homeowner agreed to hire a crew to fertilize her lawn but was left with a large pile of manure and a request for payment far exceeding the original estimate, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Erik Raney said.

Scam perpetrators will often bid a service for a set price, then convince the homeowner that additional services were performed, request additional payment and refuse to leave until payment is made.

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Raney said there are many types and variations of scams which aim to defraud homeowners, and he advised residents to always be cautious when approached for unsolicited work or services.

To avoid falling victim to scammers, Raney advised homeowners in need of repairs or services to contact a licensed contractor directly, ask for references and check those references prior to agreeing to work.

He added that homeowners should always request a written estimate and remember that California law requires an individual or company to have a contractor’s license for any job estimated at more than $500.

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This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, associate editor for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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