Men confronted illegally turning on water after the city of Detroit shuts it off

DETROIT (WXYZ) - With the world watching, Detroit's water war is reaching a boiling point. But, we discovered people are making a fast buck on the crisis, and they are putting the city's poorest at risk.

They sell themselves as guys just wanting to help.  When your water gets turned off, they turn it back on for a few bucks.  These guys aren't "Robin Hood," they are in it for some quick cash.

On a recent afternoon, 7 Action News cameras were rolling as crews with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department worked at shutting off service to the homes of customers with past due bills. When they finished, another crew arrived with an offer.

One man told us, "They follow behind the water truck and pull up and ask you if you got fifty bucks, they will turn it back on." 

We are told, it's happening daily.

"For a three day period prior to the 4th of July weekend, we had 300 suspected illegal water turn-ons," said Greg Eno, a spokesperson with the water department. "Two hundred were indeed illegal."

It didn't take long for us to spot two guys on Whitcomb Street appearing to turn the water back on at a home where service had recently been turned off. We watched as they used a make shift turn key to get the water flowing again. 

As they finished up, 7 Action News Reporter Ronnie Dahl approached them.

She asked if they were with the water department. Instead of answering her questions, they took off.

Greg Eno wants water customers to know, these scammers aren't Robin Hood just wanting to help, they are out to make a quick buck, and customers will be left owing more.

"People who think they are having a favor done for them, when we find out, and we will, are going to get a $250 fee added to their bill and they are not going to be very happy."

For assistance paying your water bill:

Contact Detroit Water & Sewerage Department at (313) 267-8000

Detroit Residential Water Assistance Program (DRWAP) Call THAW at 877-646-2831

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