Fake notices sent to Junction homes warning of weeds
Grand Junction city officials say someone has been mailing false weed violation notices, and while they’re not sure who’s behind the act, they want residents to know they’re not a part of it.
The city learned about the fake notices on Thursday and publicized them on Friday by comparing the fake notices with the real ones sent out through the city’s weed abatement program.
“Somebody put a lot of time and effort into this,” city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said.
They printed the notices in color, copied and pasted some information from the city’s website, including social media logos, and even included a closing paragraph that reads, “Thanks for your understanding in this matter and helping to keep Grand Junction the great community it is.”
The fake violations, though, didn’t quite get the city’s weed ordinance right. That fact was among several giveaways:
■ The fake notices were addressed “Dear resident.” Rainguet said the city’s notices of violation include the property owner’s name and address and a parcel identification number.
■ The fake notices indicated that in order to be in violation, weeds must be at least 5 inches in height and occupy at least 10 percent of “front, side, or rear yards, or any combination there of (sic).” In fact, the city’s ordinance reads 6 inches in height and mentions nothing about the percentage of the yard.
■ The Parks and Recreation Department’s address and phone number were off by one digit each in the fake notices. The number listed in the fake notices is disconnected.
■ The fake notices were mailed to some homes that have no weeds, Rainguet said.
City officials learned about the fake notices after some of them were addressed to homes that don’t have mailboxes. Without a mailbox to deliver to, the U.S. Postal Service marked them “return to sender.” The city of Grand Junction and its 81501 zip code were listed as the return address.
“So we were able to open it up and say, ‘Hmm, where did this come from?’ ” Rainguet said.
City officials aren’t sure whether someone is trying to create business for themselves — although there’s no information included in the notices that would allow someone to make money — or simply pulling a prank. They don’t know how many people received the notices.
Rainguet said city officials determined no crime was committed, although it would have been different if the notices had asked for payment to be sent to a certain person or address.
Anyone who believes they have received a false notice in the mail is asked to call 254-3866.
On a related note, Rainguet said a local weed-cutting business, which she declined to identify, has been distributing flyers soliciting business and using the city’s logo without the city’s permission. She said the city has asked the business to stop using the city’s logo.