LEWISTON — Police early Friday arrested a Walnut Street man they had been searching for in connection with reports of home repair fraud.
Harold Soper Jr., 53, of 26 Walnut St., was arrested on a warrant when police found him just after midnight inside an apartment on College Street.
In Androscoggin County, Soper is regarded as a so-called poster boy of home repair fraud, having been convicted seven times on that charge since 1999.
In a message from the Maine Attorney General’s Office warning of home repair scams, Soper is mentioned as an example of a typical scam artist. Over the past decade, several complaints of fraud against him have been posted with the Better Business Bureau.
Lewiston and Auburn police have warned the public about doing business with him.
Police say the most recent complaints against him are the same as the old ones: Soper is accused of taking money upfront for home repairs that are never done. His victims, police say, are usually older people.
In 2005, Soper was charged with taking $200 from a Hevey Street man and then disappearing before any work was done on the man’s home.
The 61-year-old victim told police that Soper came to his home and offered to repair his chimney.
The two men agreed on a price of $300, according to the complaint. Soper collected $100 that day and later returned requesting another $100, saying he would agree to a final price of $200 if the man would pay upfront.
More money was exchanged. Weeks passed. When the victim reached a woman at Soper’s telephone number and warned that he was going to police, Soper returned to the man’s house and begged for more time.
Another three weeks passed, and no work was done on the chimney. The victim finally contacted police, who issued a warrant and ultimately arrested Soper.
When he was arrested in that case, he was already facing previous charges of cheating a Lewiston man out of more than $1,000. He was later convicted. Soper also has convictions for burglary, theft and drug trafficking.
On Friday, the self-described handyman, contractor and roofing contractor remained behind bars.