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Woodchucking Scam: Explore Complete Information On Woodchucking Fraud

Read complete details unavailable elsewhere to know about the Woodchucking Scam. Also, learn how scammers can loot elders without the use of technology.

Did you know Montgomery, United States, authorities issued an alert about fraudulent wood-chucking workers? How is it possible that wood-chucking workers can scam people? What could be the maximum amount such wood-chucking could loot for pockets of innocent people? What is the incident that made the authorities issue an alert? 

Did you know an awareness session is scheduled to prevent such instances in the feature? Let’s check more about Woodchucking Scam.


About the wood-chucking fraud:

In November 2019, a man approached a couple living in Silver Spring, Maryland. The couples were old and in their 80s. The identity and location of couples are censored at their request to the media. The man gave the impression that he is skilled and takes up woodwork and repairs, including wood painting. The man introduced himself as Joseph Swanson and had aggressive behavior.

The couple required some woodwork at their property. The man surveyed their home and listed down the things that required repair. Joseph created a sense of urgency for repairing the stuff and plotted the Woodchucking Scam. He also listed branches of trees to be cut. However, the couple had an emotional attachment to the tree where their kid had a tree house and made several markings on the tree while they played during their childhood.

At that point in time, the couple did not know that they were getting scammed. Hence, believed in what Joseph had listed for repair. Joseph intended to increase the billing amount. Hence, Joseph had cunningly included several items that did not require any repair.

How the scammer took advantage?

The couple had a checking account from which they used to issue checks. Under the Woodchucking Scam, Joseph had taken advances for buying stuff that is required for repairs. Joseph brought Travis Jenkins and Nicholas Shonabin to work with him. Travis and Nicholas had also taken advance payments to buy things required for repairs.

The work progressed slowly, and ultimately it was incomplete. Joseph made several excuses to the couple, stating that their working partner was hospitalized. The couple were well known in their society as contributors. Taking advantage of their innocence, the wood-chucking workers took several payments for paying hospital bills.

Joseph also brought his wife and children several times to the couple’s house to do small jobs, including painting an indoor table. 

Uncovering the Woodchucking Scam: 

During the covid pandemic in 2020, the Montgomery County police received an anonymous call about suspicious activities at the couple’s house. Detective Cindy Miranda was appointed to investigate the case. She approached the couple’s house and conducted the investigation.

An audit related to how much funds were issued to the wood-chucking workers from the couple’s checking account. Shockingly, the total amount was above $200K! It is a huge amount for unprofessional home decor. Hence, the Montgomery County police came into action and filed a case against Joseph. 

Joseph was sentenced to six-and-a-half years of imprisonment for Woodchucking Scam, while the police are still looking for Travis Jenkins and Nicholas Shonabin.


The couple was unaware that Joseph was scamming them, and the wood-chucking workers had withdrawn more than $200K from their account. This incident showed how old couples are scammed. Therefore, the authorities issued an alert as scammers may opt out of various means of looting people. Montgomery County Elder and Vulnerable Adult Task Force scheduled a safety forum on 15th/June/2023 at 10:00 AM to bring awareness.

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Woodchucking Scam – FAQ

Q1. Is registration required to attend a safety session organized by Montgomery County Elder and Vulnerable Adult Task Force?

Yes, people can register for the session over the phone by calling (240)777-4999 during working hours.

Q2. Why did the authorities issue an alert during this time of the year?

The authorities believe that this time of the year is the peak time during which wood-chucking scams are featured at a higher rate and involve elderly people.

Q3. Was the repair work listed by Joseph completed?

No. The repair work identified, listed, and informed to the couple by Joseph was never done.

Q4. What was the reaction of the couple?

The elderly couple did not want to reveal their identity and did not react to the Woodchucking Scam publically.

Q5. Where is the safety session organized by Montgomery County Elder and Vulnerable Adult Task Force held?

At the Holiday Park Senior Center in Silver Spring. 

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