5 indicted in scam against homeowners
by MDJ staff
January 13, 2014 11:00 PM | 1976 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A Cobb County grand jury has indicted five people with racketeering for their roles in a home-improvement scam targeting elderly homeowners.

Helen Johnson, Larry McGill, Nicholas Mitchell, Rocky Mitchell and Gidget Williams are accused of conspiring to defraud 25 elderly victims of more than $74,500 in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Walton counties.

Seven of the victims were in Cobb County, said Lauren Kane, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Sam Olens’ office. All of the suspects were from outside Cobb, with Johnson and McGill hailing from Lilburn and the others from out of state.

The indictment alleges that between July 28, 2011, and Feb. 15, 2013, the suspects, operating in teams, sought out residences of older homeowners.

Once a potential victim was identified, a member of the crew would approach the homeowner and offer an exterior home cleaning service or a home improvement service such as roofing or driveway sealing.

Typically, the crew member would quote a price and tell the homeowner the charge was a flat rate. The homeowner would agree to the work and the price.

After work was done, the crew would tell homeowners the quoted price was actually the amount per volume of the materials or product used and a larger quantity of materials or product had been used than expected. The homeowners were then usually surprised to learn the crew was charging them a much higher fee than what they had originally agreed to pay.

Many homeowners believed they could not protest the higher amount, while some attempted to negotiate a lower payment. Feeling pressured, the homeowners would pay an amount higher than the original agreement via cash and/or writing a personal check to one of the defendants.

Personal checks were then cashed by one of the defendants.

In one instance, the defendants defrauded an elderly couple of $39,280 over the course of nine different transactions by returning to their residence and continuing to create the impression that more money was needed for materials. Ultimately, the crew never did any of the work promised.

Racketeering is punishable by five to 20 years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine or three times the amount of any pecuniary value gained.

Assistant Attorney General Blair McGowan is prosecuting the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Danny Vogt with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and David Farabaugh with the Roswell Police Department.

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