Rip-Off Alert: ‘Financial vampires’ target elderly for home renovation scams – News3LV

A judge described two brothers involved in a massive home repair scam as financial vampires. (KSNV)

A judge described two brothers involved in a massive home repair scam as financial vampires.

Clementine Thacker is still hoping to get back some of the money she lost when she trusted the wrong people.

She admits when John and Daniel Sullivan came to her Chicago home and said they could help renovate her house, she was interested.

They would go door to door seeing if people wanted any home repairs done, said U.S. Postal Inspector Silvia Carrier. And she was convinced by the Sullivan brothers to sign contracts so she could repair the second floor.

If Thacker renovated the second floor, she could rent it out for supplemental income. When she said she didn't have the money for renovations, the Sullivan brothers had a suggestion.

"They convinced her to take out a mortgage out against her house that had already been paid off for decades," Carrier said.

Thacker did and paid them up front. But when it came time to begin the renovations?

"They came for a week or two, maybe a little bit longer, but then after a while they hadn't been there for a week and I asked them what happened," Thacker said.

They never returned. Clementine was not alone.

"They were looking primarily for older people, preferably women who didn't have other family members living with them, Carrier said.

Thirty-five victims lost more than $700,000.

Postal inspectors say elderly financial fraud is rampant and all consumers need to do their homework.

"They should show you that they are licensed and bonded, and there are ways to verify that, Carrier said.

Inspectors suggest online searches, but that is not always easy for older residents. Calling the Better Business Bureau may be a good start.

For Thacker, the damage has been done.

"I don't trust anybody. Don't sign nothin'. I don't care how honest they seem or appear to be or look; don't sign anything," she said.

John and Daniel Sullivan were both sentenced to 14 years in prison on wire fraud charges and ordered to pay the victims $700,000 in restitution.

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Rip-Off Alert: 'Financial vampires' target elderly for home renovation scams - News3LV

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