Typical Seniors vs Crime Project Cases Page 1 of 2
These two webpage provide highlights of a few of the "actual cases" handled by Seniors Vs Crime Project Offices. The examples were taken from various Seniors vs Crime Annual Reports to the Florida Attorney General, and were prepared primarily by Project Office Managers. If you are interested in additional examples please the full reports in the Annual Reports Archive (button on right).
Beginning in late 2014 and continuing into 2015, numerous area residents began complaining about defective roofing shingles. Apparently the granules on their roofing tiles were coming off and clogging up their gutters, ruining their yards near downspouts, and causing roof leaks as well as unsightly roofs. Contacts with the vendor failed to resolve the issues or resulted in settlement offers that were unacceptable. Our office investigations, in coordination with officials from the area government and home owner agencies, resulted in a conclusion that the vendor had a manufacturing defect in roofing tiles install during the 2006 thru 2009-time period. Apparently two and possibly three styles of roofing shingles were involved, each with 25 or 30 year warranties. After unsuccessful efforts to resolve these cases with the vendor, we decided the problem was big enough and complex enough to be more appropriately handled by the Florida Attorney General’s Office. In March, 2015, we transferred 212 cases against this one vendor to the Antitrust Division of the Florida AG’s Office. As cases continue to be filed with our office, they were immediately transferred to the AG’s Office so that by year-end, 2015, we had transferred 306 cases against the same vendor to the AG’s Office. Those cases, for the most part, remain open and under active investigation by the AG.
Early in 2015 we began to notice a pattern of complaints against one particularly large and active landscaping company in our area. As complaints mounted, we assigned all complaints relating to this company to one Senior Sleuth. That Sleuth developed a close and cordial working relationship with the Office Manager at the landscaping company. Due to this good working relationship, our cases began to be resolved by the landscaping company in a timely manner. For all of 2015, we open and closed a total of forty-four (44) cases involving this one landscaping company. Of those cases, three (3) were closed as unfounded, three (3) were closed as Resolved To Satisfaction with No Recovery, two (2) were closed as Resolved With A Realized Gain of $1,016.93, and thirty-six (36) were Resolved With Monetary Recoveries totaling $21,134.82. We ended the year with no open cases against this particular landscaper and numerous satisfied clients.
Unapproved Pergola Construction
Our 73-year-old female client had contracted with a local, licensed contractor to build a Pergola at her home. The contract called for the builder to get all necessary approvals and he did obtain a building permit for the pergola. The pergola was built at a cost of $3461.40 and our client was quite happy with the outcome. However, the builder had failed to get approval for the exterior changes to her home from the community association responsible for approving exterior changes to property. A complaint was made to them that the new pergola infringed on utility easements. Inspection by that committee revealed the complaint was valid and our client was instructed that the pergola had to go. She contacted the contractor who was less than cooperative so she came to our office for assistance. After verifying all the facts, we contacted the builder and were able to convince him to return and to remove her pergola, redesign it in such a manner that it met county and community standards and get their approvals, and then rebuild her pergola. Our client was quite pleased with the final product and very appreciative of the assistance provided to her in this matter
Ambulance Service Overcharges
Our client, a 70-year-old lady, had a medical emergency and was transported to a local hospital by ambulance. Later, she received a bill from the ambulance service for $611.25 and promptly paid it. Subsequently she received a Medicare Supplemental Notice that they had paid her ambulance bill and her co-pay was $202.00. She contacted the EMS billing service to get a refund on her overpayment and ended up with a royal runaround. That is when she came to our office for assistance. After some work with the ambulance service, we were able to get our client a $409.25 refund check.
Not all cases involve the big bucks; they just involve doing the right thing. In this case, our 45-year-old male client was an HO scale model train enthusiast as well as a Reservist in the armed forced. He lived in Kansas but when he contacted our office for assistance, he was on deployment in Afghanistan. In late 2013 he had ordered some special decals for HO scale model train freight cars. The order was placed with a local business. He had a ton of emails and other correspondence back and forth between himself and the vendor but what he did not have was his special order model freight card decals. Working via email from Afghanistan, he contacted the Florida AG’s Office who referred the case to our office. After confirming details and that no decals had been received with his spouse in Kansas, we contacted the local business. Our client had actually placed three separate orders for decals totaling $38.50. After talking with our office staff, the local business finally got the special decals made and sent to our client’s home in Kansas. Our client, who was now back from his deployment, was most appreciative of our efforts and highly complementary of the professionalism and dedication of our staff.
Unlicensed Therapeutic Massage Treatment
Our client, a 68-year-old lady, first came to us because she felt she was being flimflammed, bamboozled, played, and duped by a medical massage therapy clinic. She had paid $5200.00 for a series of therapeutic massages. After only a few massages she could tell it was not helping her paid so she asked to cancel the contract and get a refund. “No” said the vendor. She looked further and found that her Massage Therapist was not licensed by the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. Therapists at this clinic were apparently operating “under” the license and supervision of one of the owners. Once she came to us for assistance, we were able to verify, through the Florida Department of Health, that her Massage Therapist was not licensed so we contacted clinic management to discuss the situation. In the end, the clinic agreed to, and did, give our client a full refund of her $5200.00. She was quite pleased with that outcome.
Ruined Vacation Plans
Our client, a handicapped lady of 71, made vacation reservations at a rather exclusive resort. Her room reservation specifically showed that she had requested a handicapped-accessible room. When she arrived to check in, she found that there were no handicapped rooms available. The room she was given was not near any handicapped parking. Of course she complained to the resort and was moved to a handicap room within a day or so. She wanted a refund of the $406.21 she paid for the two nights in a non-handicap room. The resort refused so she came to us for assistance. After we contacted the resort and pointed out that her confirmed reservation was for a handicapped-accessible room, the resort relented and refunded her the $406.21.
Back to Back Cruises
Our 75-year-old client and his wife booked a cruise through their travel agent. Through some sort of mix up on dates, two back-to-back cruises were booked and charged to his credit card. They took the cruise they wanted and had booked and later, when the credit card statement arrived, learned that they had “missed” the second cruise which was on the same boat and departed the afternoon of the day their first cruise returned to the USA. They tried to get a refund for the second cruise from their travel agent who referred them to the cruise line for a refund. The cruise line, which was a foreign corporation, was less than responsive. He came to our office for assistance. After several months and many calls and letters, the cruise line finally credited his account with $1918.68 for the second cruise and out client was satisfied.
Extended Warranty Woes
Our 64-year-old lady client purchased a new car from a local dealer. She also paid $1600.00 for an extended warranty on her new car. The car was involved in an accident and “totaled” by her insurance company. Insurance paid off the loan on her car. Our client contacted the warranty company for a refund on the unused portion of her extended warranty. After some calculations, the warranty company cut a check for $476.60 and sent it to the dealer. The only problem was that the dealer was now out of business and no one could tell her where her check went.
When she inquired concerning her refund check at the warranty company office, she was told that she had already been paid. She came to our office for assistance in getting her refund check. After considerable work and effort, we finally got the warranty company to stop payment on the “lost” check and issue a refund check for $476.60 directly to our client.
Our 84-year-old lady client went to a local walk-in clinic for treatment of a foot injury. While there they asked for a DNA sample for testing at “no charge to her” so she let them swab her mouth. Later she received a bill from the testing lab for $1379.91 for “genetic DNA testing”. The bill had been submitted to Medicare who denied the claim as not appropriate for her injuries. She came to us because she did not agree to pay for anything and was being billed for a test she had not requested. After we contacted the lab as well as the local walk-in clinic, they agreed to cancel her bill. Our client was really relieved to learn she did not have to pay that $1379.91 for DNA testing that she neither wanted nor requested. She thanked us profusely for our efforts on her behalf.
Our client had a total home warranty policy and they sent out an air conditioning contractor to repair her air conditioner. She was scammed by the a/c company for excessive charges and they also did damage to her existing unit by cutting outside lines, supposedly in preparation for installing new unit to save time in draining out the Freon which allowed the Freon to escape into the environment.
She was forced into purchasing a new unit by the a/c technician who gave her a list of many problems such as new evaporator coils, air handler had mold and other problems. Price quoted to fix a/c was $11,999.00. He informed her that her home warranty company would cover $2000 so her total cost would be $9999.
She signed a contract agreeing to the price. Later on she decided that this was excessive and contacted another a/c company. This 2nd company gave her a quote of $2000 to service the old unit, noting that since the Freon lines to her home had been cut, it rendered the a/c inoperative.
This went on and between her and the home warranty company and she found out that they would have covered replacing the evaporator coil and $10 toward each lb. of Freon for about $720.
Her goal was to recover $3650 from her home warranty company for the cost of new a/c. After much haggling, we were able to get them to reimburse her $3650. She was still trying to report the first a/c company for non-compliance issues and has also filed complaints with several other agencies. She thanked us for our assistance with the matter. Recovery was $3650
Our client paid a flooring company $5260 for flooring and $2945 for an installation from a sub-contractor without realizing that he was not actually employed by the flooring company.
There were numerous problems with the install, including flooring not fitting all the way to the metal of the sliding glass door, buckling in various places and soft in places because of not adhering to the subflooring. They did not realize some of the softer areas until they moved furniture. Some of the flooring did not completely reach the baseboards either.
After repeated attempts to resolve this and the installer not doing anything, we got involved with the store manager. This was a waste of time as he did not care much either. We then went to the head office and spoke with the owner and informed him of poor attitude of store manager and also poor workmanship of sub-contractor.
Apparently, the store manager had other complaints about this installer and admitted he wasn't the best available. Our clients were trying to sell their home and at last the store sent out their best installer who worked for them and all was fixed to their satisfaction. Realized gain = $8205.
Cable vs. Satellite
Our client had cable TV and cable internet and lives in a mobile home park. Her immediate neighbors all have satellite TV and they convinced her she would get more for her money with that. She called the number for satellite installation and provided information for direct debit for payment. The installer showed up and was not from either company, but a sub-contractor working for an audio and video installation company. He went up on her roof for a while and came down and went inside and told her he could not get the signal for the satellite TV she had purchased, and had installed another satellite company's equipment instead. She could not figure that one out as her neighbors had what she had asked for and there was no tree blocking her location.
While the installer was in the house, he checked her living room TV for correct alignment and stated to her that everything was OK. She had gone into another room and when she entered the room he was in she noticed that he had some sort of small electronic tablet and the screen was lit. He punched something on the screen and shut it down. He handed her the modem for the internet with all the cables and left her standing there with this box in her hand. He did not set up the bedroom TV for her and never turned on her computer at all, just said that all was OK and now she has internet service and left. She was very upset with this whole deal and when she turned on her computer, she had no internet and no idea how to get it. She did call Dish and they helped her get the bedroom TV started and she did tell them her story and they of course said that she had a 2-yr contract with them and the penalty for cancelling it was $384. Then she called the replacement satellite provider and told them her troubles and couldn't get anywhere with them. Her acct had been charged to her debit card for the first month’s service already.
She received emails from the replacement satellite company with the contracts contained in the email. The installer gave her zero paperwork! He had punched in her name as accepting the terms and her electronic signature appears on the contracts in the email.
Eventually she came to us, and since we have had some contact with this replacement satellite company, we know they can be good to deal with, and she talked to people there also and her contract with the satellite company was cancelled.
The satellite company told her that it would cost her $170 for someone to come out and take off the internet receiver from her roof, so at 71 years old, with bad knees she went up on the roof and took the whole thing down, internet and Dish antenna. Amazing and determined woman!
Her debit card was cancelled, no new charges were to go on to new card through an account transfer and all ended well for her. Her realized gain was $768 and she was so happy with Seniors vs. Crime that she came in and hugged us, gave us a bag of sandwiches and some cookies and cupcakes.
Noisy New Appliance
Our client purchased new fridge with an extended 3-year warranty. This fridge made terrible loud noises and knocking sounds which woke them up at night. They had repeated service calls and they were constantly told this was how it was supposed to be. They contacted us and also a last chance for the service guy, who removed the fridge filter and said they didn't need it. It stopped making noises for a while and we thought it was over, but not so.
Noises resumed again, calls were made by the Project Office, and eventually more than a year after buying the fridge the store replaced it with a new model, which as the client said, "made Momma happy" and a whole new 3-year warranty. Good deal! Client says since we work for peanuts, he brought us a big container of peanuts and candy and told us about the new fridge which was valued at $1,100.
Identity Theft Complaint
An 86 year old male indicated he had been receiving aggressive telephone calls and collection letters from two banks stating he had credit card bills in the amount of $20,520.30. The debt was in his wife’s name. He had been the caretaker for his disabled wife for the past twenty years, and in fact she had never even had a credit card. The dunning calls and letters continued until our Project Office discovered the elderly person was a victim of identity theft.
Collection Agency Complaint
An elderly female complained that she was receiving calls and collection letters from a law firm stating that her husband owed money to a computer training company. She indicated that her husband not only never used a computer, but was deceased. With the intervention of Seniors vs. Crime the law firm checked further and found out it was a person with a similar name.
Auto Dealership Complaint
An 88 year old male entered into a contract that put him in an automobile lease for 39 months in late 2012. He indicated that his intent was to buy the automobile. The dealership was not willing to resolve the complaint so he came to our office. With the help of the Project Office, the complainant was able to negotiate with the dealership to pay off the automobile with a savings of several thousand dollars. He expressed that he was pleased with the assistance Seniors vs. Crime offered him.
A 78 year old male contracted to build an addition to his home with an agreement that it would be finished in 10 weeks. The complainant made a down payment of $6,000.00 on the $17,500 job. The contractor did some work, but a substantial part had not been completed even though another $6,000.00 had been paid. When the Lakeland office was contacted, it was learned that the permit for the construction had not been obtained until months after the start of the job and he was not licensed to do that type of construction. The Lakeland office contacted the DBPR and an unlicensed activity investigation was conducted. The contractor was ordered to hire a properly licensed company to oversee the work and eventually the complainant was refunded his $12,000.00Used Car Had Bad Motor
This case involved the purchase of a 2008 car with 85 K miles on 11-9-15 from a used car dealership. The engine overheated and failed after 15 days. There was a third party warranty which will not cover the engine. The office contacted the used car dealership and negotiated a settlement for the client. The used car dealership and the client split the cost of the engine repair estimated to be $5100.00
Job Cancelled-Refund Made
A client contacted our office regarding a $2400 deposit put on her credit card for a job with a local aluminum contractor. She wanted to job to be done while her son was visiting on vacation. Her son's plans changed and the client called and cancelled the contract until a future date. They were reluctant to return the deposit. After contacting the company and talking with the representative who wrote the contract, we were able to have her funds credited back to her credit card account.
Unfinished Landscaping Job
A client came to the office and wanted to know what could be done to get a company to come and finish a landscaping job that was contracted and paid for. The company was contacted by the client, prior to coming to our office and filling out a complaint form, and was told they would come in a few days and start the job. They came a few days later, started the job, but left again before finishing the job. Our office tried to contact the landscaper for well over a month.
Their answering machine said the voicemail was full and could not take any voicemail until emptied. Several weeks later, our office tried again and finally contacted the landscaper who promised to finish the job within the week. The following business day for our office to be open, we received a phone call from our client telling us that the landscaping job was finally completed and to the satisfaction of the client
Computer Not Working
Complainant had purchased a refurbished computer from a computer distributor for $200. The computer did not work properly. The distributor was contacted and agreed to replace it with another refurbished computer. Upon receipt of the 2nd computer, complainant said the system was worse than the 1st computer, and was having difficulty getting Tiger Direct to refund her money. Staff contacted the computer distributor, who agreed to issue a return shipping order for the computer and subsequently refunded the $200 to the complainant.
Vacuum Sale Not a Clean Deal?
The complainant received an in-home demonstration of a vacuum cleaner, which included demonstration of the accessories and warranty, and financing information. With the complainant’s permission, the demonstration and transaction were recorded; audio and visual. Subsequently, the complainant entered into a contract for the purchase price of $2816.24, which was financed with monthly payments of approximately $70 p/month, of which approximately $40 p/month was towards the interest.
Approximately 10 months after the sale, the complainant filed a case against the company that sold the vacuum, alleging that the company forced her to buy the vacuum and the salesmen would not leave the home.
The company was notified of the complaint and forwarded copies of the signed sales documents and a CD of the video recording of the sales transaction to the office for review. Several times during the recording and prior to the contract being signed, the complainant was asked if she was dissatisfied with the product, the salesmanship, or the financing, to which she replied ‘No” each time. The complainant raved about the product and appeared not to be under any duress, nor did there appear to be any high pressure sales tactics used during the transaction.
The complainant was contacted by the office staff and advised of the findings, at which time the complainant agreed that she did like the vacuum, but the payments were no longer in her budget. It appears that this may have been a case of buyer’s remorse, and there was no recovery to be mad
An elderly client came into complain that a plumber charged her $600 for a fairly minor job that took about 2 hours. After reviewing photos of the work that was performed we contacted the plumber and negotiated a reimbursement of $300 for the client. She was very happy and has recently contacted us for assistance in another matter.
A client living in southern Florida complained that after ordering a boat lift from a northwest Florida company, he had not received all the necessary parts. In addition, he was told by the company that they would send someone to help complete the installation. After six months of back and forth between the company and the client, and much animosity between the parties, a complaint was filed with AGs office. After much communication with the company and the client we oversaw the return of the parts that had been shipped and secured a full refund for the client.
Consignment Shop Problem
Client placed her furniture with a consignment shop. The client checked with the shop frequently and was told that the furniture had not sold. After being told this for several months she went to the shop and noted that her furniture was not there any longer. She inquired and was told that the furniture had indeed been sold, she however had not received payment. In her complaint she indicated that the consignment shop owner had kept promising to pay. The client felt that she was getting the run around and need help in dealing with this. When our volunteer was finally able to contact the shop’s owner and discuss the situation, our client received a full payment within several days.
We received three cases within a month of each other all involving the same concrete contractor. He would go around to various neighborhoods and solicit to repair driveways. His pitch was that he would be doing work in the neighborhood so he could give people a big discount if several went in together for the cost of concrete and labor. He would tell people he had to have the money up front to be able to do a group rate. After receiving the monies, sometimes as much as $10,000 he would do no work or start to tear up existing driveway and then leave. When the customers would complain he would threaten them to the point that one couple put their home up for sale and moved from Tallahassee. After hearing this we got the police involved. After their investigation and the story appearing on two local news stations, another 19 people came forward with the same circumstances. The man was arrested and charged with the intent to defraud and the threats of bodily harm.
A gentleman came to us for help to get his car out of police impound. He has a home here and in Dallas, TX. He lives here most of the time and was here when he received a call from the Dallas Police that someone had broken into his garage and tried to steal his car (a Jaguar that belonged to his late wife). The police were able to stop the theft, but the garage door was broken and they could not leave the car there so they took it to impound. The problem was he had no insurance for the car and could not get it out of impound without proof of insurance and the car was also registered in his late wife’s name. We had to help him get a copy of the death certificate and then help with contacting the insurance and Dallas police impound to explain what was going on, He was able to get to Dallas after about a month to get his car out of impound. He came to us overwhelmed and needing someone to help him navigate all the steps in order to get his late wife’s car back as it has great sentimental value to him.
Seniors vs Crime Senior Sleuth Larry Moran, in the Wildwood Project Office located at the Wildwood Police Department, meets with a complainant. Photo: Rachel Stuart, Daily Sun
Travel Group Taken by Con Man
A small business owner and his assistant came into the office in mid-August for assistance. They had a business that set up special VIP travel packages for groups based on the interest of the groups. They had been engaged by another “businessman” in later July who wanted to book their services. Their client stated he would provide our client with the credit card information of his group members which would cover the cost of our client’s services. He also agreed to provide the driver’s license and/or passport information of the individuals in his group for identification.
Our client agreed and explained that the desired program required five days and for $5,500 per person, but didn’t include meals or lodging although those arrangements could be made. They agreed on the deal. Shortly thereafter, our client was instructed to withdraw an additional $10,800 from the credit cards they had been provided access to but since they had already withdrawn $30,700 to cover the original cost, they withdrew the funds from their own account and sent a check to the person who had acted as the group’s agent. They continued to hear from the agent and continued to provide that person with additional funds from their own account. They finally asked how their withdrawals would be covered and were told by the agent that he would cover the costs when he met them in September.
We told our client he needed to refund the $30,700 to each of the clients in the travel group since this was obviously a scam and that the owners of the cards would be getting their statements and discover the fraud. He agreed and contacted the credit card companies and refunded the money. However, before they had gotten to the last credit card company, one of the banks involved had reversed the charge into the bank account of the client. They wanted us to recoup the lost $10,800.
We made contact with each of the 7 travel group members and each had been victims of identity theft and credit card fraud.
They were referred to law enforcement for further investigation.
Dishonest HVAC Repair
Our office was contacted by an individual who had recently had their air conditioning unit replaced. They had been contacted by a local company offering a $29.99 “summer checkup”. When the technician arrived he opened up the unit and immediately began yelling to turn it off it was going to explode. He then told the customer that the unit was shot and was in danger of exploding. Based on that information the customer contracted to have the unit replaced. When the crew came out the next day to replace the unit the customer asked if he could keep the old unit and they said yes.
The customer kept the unit because his brother wanted to put it on a rental house in Miami and get it fixed. Once the unit was in Miami the brother hired a contractor to hook it up and fix it. However, once it was hooked up the new contractor could find nothing wrong with the unit. As a result, the original customer came to our office to file the complaint. We were able to acquire documentation from the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the original contractor that installed it in the home only two years prior and from the contractor in Miami to verify that it was the same unit. We turned the case over to law enforcement and the assigned detective followed up and found two additional cases similar to this one. He sent the case to the State’s Attorney’s Office and they declined to file saying that it was civil in nature.
Pool Installation Taking Too Much Time
Our office was contacted by an individual who had contracted to have a pool installed in his home. The contract called for the work to be completed within a 3-month period however, 6 months had passed and the pool was not completed. The complainant said he had attempted contact with the contractor but was not getting any returned calls. He had paid $17,000 in advance to get the construction started and either wanted his money back or the pool competed. After multiple attempts we were finally able to contact the contractor and after multiple discussions were able to acquire a new schedule that was agreed upon by both parties. The pool was later completed resulting in a realized gain of $17,000.
Paving Contractor Arrested
We were contacted by an individual who had paid to have his driveway resurfaced by a local contractor. Our complainant had paid $2400 in advance however no work had been completed. In the process of researching this case we discovered four other complainants who encountered the same situation with the same contractor. We determined this to be criminal in nature and forwarded the case to the Sheriff’s Office. The subject was later charged as a result of these cases. No actual recovery was made.
Car Purchase Reversed
A complainant reported to Seniors vs. Crime that her adult brother, who suffers from medically documented mental illness(es), had recently wandered into a new car dealership. He was approached by a salesman and a discussion ensued about purchasing a new car. The brother was acting strangely enough that the salesman asked if there was anyone he could call; so the salesman phoned the complainant. The complainant explained her brother’s frequent inability to make rational decisions and that he probably does not realize that he is presently at a car dealer. Later that same day the complainant received another phone call from the salesman, who stated he had just dropped her brother off at a local hospital because of his unusual mental state and left him with the keys to his new car. Needless to say the complainant was upset that her brother had been sold a new car and immediately phoned Seniors vs. Crime.
This office contacted the dealer’s general manager and offered to provide available medical documentation about the brother’s mental status, who had, the day before appearing at the dealership, been released from a mental health facility. Within two days the general manager voided the $28,900.00 sale and returned the brother’s down payment of $6,288.00. The brother remained under mental health treatment a month after being dropped off by the salesman.
Not So Hot Solar System
A complainant phoned Seniors vs. Crime to report he had purchased a $42,000.00 solar power installation for his home. For unknown reasons the contractor had failed for months to finish the installation and wanted the contracted work, which was paid for in full, completed and operational. This office determined that frequent building department inspections found incomplete work so authorization to operate the system could not be issued. The general contractor was not cooperative with Seniors vs. Crime; however, sub-contractors, who were also responsible parties to the uncompleted work, were willing to bring the system into full compliance to pass inspection and become operational. After six months of cooperation between this office, sub-contractors and inspectors the system passed inspection and became operational to the delight of the complainant. This office will continue to monitor an attempt by the complainant’s finance company to refund $16,000.00 of general contractor overcharges for the purchased system.
A local resident contracted for roof repair by a person holding himself out as a licensed roofing contractor. After paying a substantial down payment the contractor seemingly disappeared. Upon complaint to Seniors vs. Crime, an investigation determined that the person who presented as a roofing contractor was instead using the identity of another person who was a licensed roofing contractor. While working with the complainant and the complainant’s bank, two cashed checks written to the unknown person were recovered and found to contain the unknown person’s driver’s license number and finger print. After this office located and discussed this situation with the real licensed contractor, he filed a police report with his local law enforcement agency concerning identity theft and the complainant filed a fraud complaint with her local law enforcement agency. Both agencies continue to work cooperatively from the initial findings of this Seniors vs. Crime office toward resolution of both police reports.
Phony Damage Claim
A woman rented a vehicle from a major car rental company for a weekend rental. She took photos of the vehicle before and after the rental period along with a photo of the odometer reading at the time of its return. Three days after returning the car the rental company wrote to the woman claiming that exterior damage was caused to the vehicle during her rental period and charged her $790.00 for the damage. The woman was certain there was no damage suffered during her rental period and complained to Seniors vs. Crime about the rental company charging her for damage.
The complainant supplied Seniors vs. Crime with her photos and photos from the rental car company along with their claim documents that included documents from the repair shop and towing company. Inspection of all documents found a 2-mile discrepancy between when the complainant dropped off the car and when the tow company picked it up at the car rental company for delivery to the repair shop.
The rental car company was queried by Seniors vs. Crime for an explanation of how the vehicle acquired 2 extra miles after the complainant returned the vehicle. Instead of providing an explanation about the mileage discrepancy the car rental company dropped its damage claim against their customer, who was very relieved to be out from under the $790.00 claim.
Shady Deals with The Contractor
In June 2014, the complainant took a building loan out from a major bank in the amount of $140,000 to build a new home. She hired a General Contractor to oversee the building of this home, and gave that contractor the names of tradesmen she wanted to work on the construction.
Everything seemed to be going well until the complainant was told that the person in charge of the loan expenditures was no longer at the bank. The bank would not tell her anything else about this. The complainant asked for a list of contractors, and a copy of the expenditures from the bank. She was also given a copy of a W-9, a Federal Tax Form, and a bank notarized form listing an Electrical Company as doing electrical work on the construction site, and being paid for that work. After the complainant contacted that company, they told her they were not doing any work for the General Contractor she hired and certainly not doing any work on her building. The Project Office contacted the Electrical Company owner. The owner stated that had not received the W-9 form, and did not sign the notarized bank form. He said he had gone to the site and confronted a male doing electrical work in the complainants building. The male was asked what company he was from and he said the name of the electrician’s company. When the electrician identified himself as the owner of that company, the male hastily left. We later learned that the person doing the electrical work was the general contractor’s brother and was not a licensed electrician.
The electrical company owner further stated he did not do any work, did not receive any money from the bank, and did not sign the Federal W-9 form. The Project Office contacted the General Contractor who stated she would not speak with the Senior Sleuth without her Attorney. The Senior Sleuth contacted the bank, who would not give any information regarding any of the above. The electrical company has made complaints to DBPR, the Sheriff's Office, The IRS, and the County Building Dept.
Squeaking/Popping Laminate Floor
In 2009 the complainant had laminate flooring installed by a large flooring company. In 2015 she began to hear the floor POP when she walked on it. She contacted the Project Office, who contacted the company that had installed laminate. The Senior Sleuth was told it would cost the complainant close to $5,000 for a new floor. The Senior Sleuth then contacted the manufacturer of the laminate, who said the flooring company had not put the proper underlayment down.
After numerous conversations with the flooring company the Project Office was able to have a new floor installed at no cost to the complainant.
A son representing the estate of his deceased mother contacted the Project Office requesting assistance in recovering funds being held by an adult family care home business. He had been trying to recover these funds for 5 years. Despite numerous broken promises, small payments, and bad checks the home still owed him almost $13,000. Senior Sleuths contacted the home’s owner, who stated she had used the elderly woman's funds to expand the home business.
After numerous phone calls, and negotiations by SVC over 3 months, SVC recovered $12,877.00 for the estate.
Faulty Washer Installation
Client complained about a washer and dryer she had bought and had installed by a vendor. Installation was not properly done and client developed a mold and mildew issue. Client called vendor and her insurance company to no avail. She came to us and we contacted vendor and resolved the problem. Client received $4188.65 for remediation and reinstallation.
Alarming Alarm Situation
Our client complained to the Project Office that she was being charged for a home security system through the cable company that she hadn’t contracted for. After several months of trying to resolve the problem which included a letter from her son who is an attorney, she had no results and came to us. The Project Office resolved the problem and the client received reimbursement in the amount of $319.00
Compressor Problem Not Fixed
Client had a replacement compressor installed in her vehicle and went on vacation. Her vehicle had the same problem in Richmond Va. She contacted the original installation company and wanted a rebate for the money she paid to have the vehicle fixed. After numerous calls and receiving no satisfaction, she contacted the Project Office. We contacted the company and the client received a check for $1203.51
The Project Office had received 7 complaints involving a local landscaper who had pocketed over $80,000 in money paid up front for landscaping services from these cases and cases handled by other Project Offices. Our efforts to resolve these cases were unsuccessful. All of these cases were referred to the State’s Attorney for criminal charges.
New Owner Makes Good
The office had received 14 complaints involving a local pest control company from customers looking for resolutions to the amounts they paid to a pest control company that was taken over by the local pest control company. The takeover resulted in several instances of confusion causing some very unhappy customers. The Project Office office was able to develop a relationship with the office manager at the pest control company and all complaints were closed to the satisfaction of the clients.
Landscaping Not Performed
Three cases involved a local man who took payment for landscaping services up front and never returned to perform work. The man was arrested, charged and convicted. He is currently on probation with restitution ordered.
Air Conditioning Complaint
An elderly complainant with partial dementia was left alone for a short period of time while his wife went to the doctor. She told her husband that the air conditioning company might show up to do a routine service call which was covered under the service agreement and he should not give them any money. When the technicians arrived, they convinced the elderly man that his AC unit was about to be shut down and they needed to perform emergency services not covered under the warranty. The complainant was intimidated by these technicians and since he had no cash or credit cards, they drove him to his bank where he withdrew $1,200.00 to perform this unneeded service. When the elderly gentleman’s wife returned, she contacted the air conditioning company, but they refused to give her a refund. The Cape Coral office worked with the Attorney General’s office to build a substantial case against the company. The company’s license was subsequently revoked and the company went out of business.
RV Sale Complaint
This case involves a 2007, 30 feet motor home in excellent condition with two slide outs. The odometer showed 28,692 miles. This RV was put into consignment to be sold on October 31, 2012. The salesman indicated that they would receive their asking price of $45,000. They were also told that they would not be charged any fees upon the sale of the motor home. A Consignment Agreement was duly signed on above date. It states that the Consignment Agreement is governed by the State of Florida. It furthermore states that “If Consignor removes the vehicle prior to sale, the Consignee will be paid any and all expenses for advertising, repairs, cleaning, maintenance, storage fees, or anything else that has been expended or charges incurred on the vehicle before it will be released." No dollar amounts specified.
No offers were forth coming. On May 3, 2013 the owners visited the Sales Depot and asked what it would cost to retrieve the motor home. The owners were told, “You don’t want to know” and instead suggested that they lower the sales price again for the third time to $38,000. This was agreed upon. Still no offers. On July 18, 2013, the owners asked for the amount that they owed. They were shocked to learn that they owed $6,476.62 in cash in order to obtain a release. This amount included $3,885 for 259 days of storage at $15.00 per day. Upon checking storage fees in the area, the $15.00 turned out to be way out of line. The sales man stated that Florida allowed fees up to $15.00 per day; however he reluctantly agreed to lower this to $7.50 per day. This saved the owners $1,942. After payment of the revised amount, $4,525 the motor home was picked up.
Discount Buyers Club Complaint
An 85 year old male attended a free preview at a discount buyer’s club. He signed up for a 30 day free trial, but shortly thereafter he attempted to cancel the trial offer. The club refused to honor that request. The Project Office contacted the company headquarters in Indiana and the local manager responded by offering a full refund of $2,900.00. The complainant agreed to refrain from making negative comments about the company and to inform his media sources that they had fully cooperated with him.
Auto Dealership Complaint
A 71 year old male received a call from his son to co-sign for an automobile. The father refused, but later received a statement from a finance company indicating he owed $18,696 for an automobile, and he was past due on a payment of $894.00. When contacted by Seniors vs. Crime, the dealership could not give a satisfactory answer, and would not provide a copy of the original purchase contract. The dealership later indicated that they had taken the car back and the father was not responsible for any financial obligation. It was later determined that the salesman was a longtime friend of the son and was responsible for the transaction.
A complainant stated that her driveway had been painted by a contractor. Shortly afterwards, the paint started to fade and was leaving tire marks. The contractor was contacted in his Delaware office and within a few months, upon his return to Florida, he corrected the condition. As a result of this complaint he also went back to three of her neighbors with similar complaints to correct their driveways.
An individual acting on behalf of her elderly mother came to us for help with a problem with an appliance purchase from a major appliance store. Her mother purchased a new stove and microwave combination to be delivered and installed in her home. The microwave was not delivered or installed and when her mother questioned the installers they were very rude to her and said it would come later. Her mother felt intimidated by the situation. The daughter got involved and after numerous calls was told there was a problem with the order number and never could get the microwave delivered or a credit issued. She came to us asking for help when she could not get any satisfaction from the store. After several calls we were able to have a credit issued in the amount of $286 for the microwave.
Fine Furniture Problem
In March a client came in with a complaint against a Furniture store in Panama City. She and her husband had purchased a new sectional couch with two end piece recliners. There were workmanship flaws with the couch and the recliners: one recliner actually having a bent frame. Attempts by our client fell on deaf ears. We contacted the manager of the furniture store and he responded that our clients wouldn’t let him go to their house to examine the damage. When contacted, our client refuted that, stating on numerous occasions, she had requested that someone come to the house to do such an examination and they refused to do so. When confronted with our client’s response, the manager stated that he had done all that he could do and was done with the matter. We contacted the legal department at the corporate headquarters and asked for their assistance in resolving this matter. Twelve days after our letter to corporate headquarters, our client received a phone call from the furniture store stating that they would be replacing all of her furniture within the next 3 weeks. In April, our client called to inform us the store had delivered her replacement furniture, amounting to a realized gain of around $2,000.
Hearing Aid Problem
Our client came to the office in April with a complaint against a Hearing Center. She stated that she purchased a set of hearing aids from them for $3,514 with financing through a credit company. When she received the hearing aids in February, they did not fit properly. She returned them to the hearing center with the assurance that they would re-order a better fitting set. From that time on she had not heard from them nor was she able to contact them. She came to us for assistance and when we researched the company, we discovered that all offices in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi were no longer in business. We advised our client to consider looking for replacements in the local market. She did that and when she explained to the new hearing aid center what happened, they provided her with new hearing aids free. The realized gain was $3514.
This case is significant because this is not the first time that we have had a complaint against this companu. In a prior case, the vendor was very helpful and pleasant to deal with; resulting in an agreeable resolution to both parties. In this case, as before, we found the vendor to be accommodating but overwhelmed by circumstances, leading us to believe that he is not deliberately scamming anyone: just getting in over his head and finding it difficult to fulfill orders that he has taken. Our client had a small order for about $150 worth of bullets, but was unable to get them after multiple promises by the vendor that he would shortly have them. When contacted by us, the vendor had several reasons why he had not delivered them yet. He promised to deliver them immediately. The vendor then sent the package out, even sharing the tracking number with us. Somehow the order was sent to the wrong address. When we identified that error to the vendor, he agreed to just simply reimburse our client for the amount he had already paid and on the 29th of December our client received his $150 back
Client came to us in July as a result of referral from the AG’s office. The clients were contacted by their tenants in June that the house would not cool below 85 degrees even though air conditioner was set for 72. Client contacted Warranty company requesting service. Clients paid their deductible and service tech came a day later. Within 30 minutes the tech had left the tenants house due to power outage in neighborhood, but we were told that we could call for diagnostic. We were told after calling company that there was nothing wrong. House was still at 85 degrees so client called Warranty company asking for a second opinion. He was told if new tech said the same thing they would be responsible for another $125 deductible. Two days’ later house was a 92 degrees. Second company’s tech stated that the condenser was in rough shape. Called Warranty company back, they sent original tech and he left an invoice stating “recommended that the condenser be replaced as it was in bad shape”. The client signed and received a copy of the invoice.
Upon calling Warranty company 4 days later the client was told that the Air Conditioner company would contact them. 6 days’ later client still had not heard from air conditioner company so he contacted Warranty company again. They claimed they had not received the report yet to authorize service. For the next month numerous calls were exchanged between client, home warranty co. and air conditioner company, with no results. Seniors vs Crime got involved in August and spent the next month discussing the situation with the Warranty company and as a result of dedicated volunteer work were finally able to get the clients a check at the end of Sept. for $3,950 for the replacement of the air conditioner
Client came to us in April with a complaint against a trucking company for damage to his household goods, driveway and lawn. In January the client’s goods were moved from a warehouse in Georgia to his new residence in Florida. The containers were delivered to his house in the rain and unloaded with equipment that was not well equipped to handle them under the conditions resulting in jarring and bouncing of the containers on the ground and the tearing up his lawn and sprinkler system. The client took pictures of the damage and proceeded to file a claim for damages. Included with the claim forms were estimates for repairs from several companies. Our client also had to pay the sanitation company to dispose of the items that could not be salvaged. The trucking company claimed that since our client self-packed and did not take out additional insurance that he would only be eligible for $0.10 per/lb. for a total of $750. The trucking company said they would also pay for the sanitation bill of $125. Our client said this was unacceptable and contacted Seniors Vs Crime. After our volunteers spent an additional 3 months of back and forth communication with the trucking company and the client, both parties agreed on a final settlement of $4,969. The client received a check for $4969 at the end of July 2015.