Suspects Charged in Elder Exploitation Home Repair Fraud Ring
Release date: 7/29/2013
Victims in the Triangle and Triad lost more than $300,000
Raleigh: Ten people have been charged with more than 75 counts of defrauding seniors as part of Operation Nail It, ending a home repair fraud ring that targeted seniors throughout central North Carolina, investigators and prosecutors announced today.
The defendants are charged with defrauding victims with an average age of 85 out of more than $300,000. They face a total of more than 75 counts, including obtaining property by false pretenses, conspiracy to obtain property by false pretenses and elder exploitation.
Investigators contend that the defendants initially approached seniors offering to perform minor work on their homes, such as cleaning out gutters, for a small fee. The defendants are then alleged to have talked their victims into a series of expensive and unnecessary home repairs to their roof, plumbing, foundation or electrical systems. Work performed by the defendants was minimal, substandard or not completed at all, according to arrest warrants.
The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), Burlington, Cary and Raleigh police began making arrests as part of Operation Nail It early Friday morning. All 10 suspects have been arrested. Arrests were served and processed in Alamance, Edgecombe, Nash, Wake and Wilson counties. The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office, Nash County Sheriff’s Office, and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrests.
“We are extremely proud of the success of the partnership between law enforcement and prosecutors that effectuated these arrests,” said Tammy Smith, white collar crime resource prosecutor for the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys’ Financial Crimes Initiative. “The elderly population continues to be a target for financial crime, and we have an obligation to protect them from those that prey upon them. We want criminals to know that financial crimes are not tolerated in North Carolina.”
“Criminals and con artists who prey on seniors must be stopped. They strike fast and move on quickly, hoping to stay one step ahead of the law. We’re teaming up with other law enforcement and prosecutors so we can piece together these cases and put home repair fraudsters behind bars where they belong,” said Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Operation Nail It is a coordinated effort by a task force comprised of the following local and state government agencies: SBI’s Financial Crimes Unit; Financial Crimes Initiative of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys; Wake County District Attorney’s Office; Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office; Burlington, Cary, Raleigh and Wilson police departments; State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors; N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors; N.C. Industrial Commission; and several local city inspectors.
Operation Nail It cases will be prosecuted by local district attorney offices in partnership with the Financial Crimes Initiative. The task force plans to continue to target criminals who commit felony fraud against seniors.
The task force work started in early 2013 when the Town of Cary Police Department noticed a trend in elderly scamming cases and alerted the SBI’s Financial Crime Unit. Further investigative work revealed the same suspects were targeting senior victims in multiple municipalities in the Triangle and Triad areas.
Prosecuting financial fraud is the primary focus of the Financial Crimes Initiative of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, a new initiative funded out of a landmark national settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers. Roy Cooper designated funds from the settlement to expand the Financial Crimes Unit in the SBI, a part of the N.C. Department of Justice, which is headed by the Attorney General. Financial fraud against our state’s most vulnerable victims, the elderly, is a top priority for both units. Since the creation of the Financial Crimes Initiative in November 2012, it has worked closely with the expanded SBI Financial Crimes Unit to increase investigation and prosecution of financial crime across the state.
If you or a loved one may have been the victim of fraud by any of these individuals, can provide additional information about the cases, or need to report other instances of fraud against seniors, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov. The Consumer Protection Division has also published a comprehensive guide on frauds and scams in North Carolina, including those that target seniors.
Additional Related Information
News Conference Speaker Bios
Operation Nail It Arrest Mug Shots
Elder Financial Abuse Facts
Fraud Hotline Information
About N.C. Conference of District Attorneys Financial Crimes Initiative
Tammy Smith, N.C. Conference of District Attorneys
919 720-8065, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Gladwell, N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts
919 890-1394, 919 247-2173, email@example.com
Noelle Talley, N.C. Attorney General’s Office
919 716-6413, firstname.lastname@example.org