Fraud perpetrated on the elderly is an especially heinous crime, but this contractor doubled down and went after a 92-year-old World War II veteran.
Francisco Gomez agreed to replace the roof on the vet’s house in Virginia Beach, VA. They settled on $11,000 for the work and the vet wrote Gomez a $7,000 check upfront, the other $4,000 due upon completion. That’s the last the vet saw of Gomez. He cashed the check the same day and never showed up.
The vet tried and tried to contact Gomez, sometimes reaching him only to get excuses in response. Finally, after three months of trying to get Gomez to do the work or refund his money, the WWII vet called the local police. They had the vet write a letter to Gomez’s last known address and tell him to return the $7,000. They had the victim send it by certified mail with a return receipt.
Gomez didn’t respond, but now the prosecutors had a paper trail. They charged him, he pled guilty the end of May 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison. He’s been there before, trailing a long history of fraud: 7 counts of false pretenses, 2 of contempt, 2 of obtaining money through mental capacity, and doing business without a license.
Flags and Prevention
Get estimates before getting work done. Make sure a contractor is licensed; don’t hire him just because he knocks on your door. Do not pay in full in advance for work; pay in increments as each stage of the work is completed. If you have to pay for materials in advance, get invoices showing what was paid and delivered. Pay with a check or credit card; they can be tracked.