Schmoke warns against revitalization fraud Phone solicitor claims city will pay for home repairs

January 05, 1996|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

The city's multimillion-dollar urban revitalization program may do a lot for city residents -- but it will not do their windows.

Yet someone is calling residents and claiming that the program will pay for new windows and other home improvements, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke warned yesterday.

"We're concerned about these misrepresentations," the mayor said.

City officials caught on to the problem because the telephone solicitor picked the wrong person to call.

Rosalind Tate lives in the East Baltimore "empowerment zone" targeted by the revitalization program and works as a security guard at a downtown office building that houses the Empowerment Zone Management Corp. She said she was called late last month by a representative of a company called ACS and asked if she needed any work done on her home.

"They said, 'You live in the empowerment zone. Maybe they can help you'" pay for the repairs, Ms. Tate said yesterday.

Ms. Tate, 41, gave the company her Social Security number for a credit check. But the company did not keep two appointments.

She mentioned the solicitation to officials of the empowerment zone who regularly passed her guard station at the Legg Mason Tower. They in turn told Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, an empowerment zone board member, who has ordered an investigation.

A recording at a telephone number that the company representative gave Ms. Tate said the number was no longer in service.

The empowerment zone offers tax breaks to businesses and plans grants for programs ranging from drug treatment to business loans -- but not home improvements.

"We obviously aren't going to do that," said Michael Preston, a spokesman for the empowerment zone.

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