Katherine Gay says she was tricked into a scam that has now cost her the only home she has ever known.
It all started when a company offered to help her take out a loan and then make repairs on her home.
This is a partial list of things the company said they would do: Fix the porches, new siding, new windows and cut down trees.
"I was so happy to be getting the house fixed up. I wanted the house to go back to the way it was when I was young, when I was 15 years old," Gay said.
Happiness quickly turned to anger when Gay realized the con men had taken the loan money but did only a few of the promised repairs.
"There is a whole list of things they were supposed to take care of and in the end they left her in worse shape then when they arrived," said US Postal Inspector Kimberly Kepling.
Gay was one of 42 elderly victims taken in by David Lasalla, Mitchell Jones and Chuck Cravotta.
"Once the mortgage loans were funded, the money was supposed to go back to the victims. Often, they would intercept the check or they would offer to take the check to the victim by the title company. Then they would have the victim sign the check and they would deposit it into their account," Kepling said.
By the time officials caught the suspects, there was no money left to return to the victims.
"They drove nice cars, they took nice vacations, they went gambling. Basically, they spent the money as fast as they got it," Kepling said.
Inspectors say it is important to thoroughly research a company before ever giving it any money or control over your money. But, don't just research the company.
"You should also have the individuals checked out," Kepling added.
Unfortunately, that advice came too late for Gay, who couldn't afford the monthly loan payments and can't sell the house in its current condition.
Lasalla was sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay more than $500,000 in this case. Jones and Cravotta were also ordered to pay restitution.
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Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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