The Handyman Scam

Con artists, many from foreign countries, target the elderly who own their own homes and have retirement funds in the bank. These crooks pick out upscale older neighborhoods where seniors would own their homes out right. They follow the mail carrier and wait for elderly woman who come out to get their mail and chat with the mailman. The crook walks up after the mail carrier leaves and introduce himself as a handyman who has been working up the street at Mrs. Jones home. (There is no Mrs. Jones) The conman will have a shingle or a piece of tile and say it apparently has blown off their roof.

He says if she like he will take a look at her roof and see where the tile or shingle came from. He allegedly fixes the roof. Of course the shingle came out of his car not off her roof. She offers to pay him, he says no, so she invites him in for tea. He offers to help her remodel the bathroom and after about three weeks he has access to her ATM account and is draining money out of all her accounts. The elder never knows what hit her.

Next he talks her into getting a small loan on her equity so she can go see relatives and take a needed vacation. He says she had a great deal of equity and this would not cost her anything. The crook fills out the bank paperwork and she signs it. What she does not realize is that the crook is taking out all the equity on her home, like $200,000 or $300,000 not the small loan he suggested. When he gets the money, she leaves on her vacation and he leaves for good. When the elder returns she find that she now owes a new monthly mortgage payment of about $1,200 that she does not have. She has lost her home.

The bank will start repossession of the home in about 60-days. The crook is gone and the cops will never catch him. The question is why didn’t bank officials question this transaction by an 86 year old woman that was handled by an unknown non-relative. One call to elder abuse detectives could have stopped this crime.