Mrs. Alice White lives alone, has been a widow for the past nine years, and is in fairly good health. She is on medication for her blood pressure, diabetes (adult onset), and arthritis. At 79 years old, she is involved in her church choir, attends Bible study class once a week, and still drives her car to and from the grocery store and church. She has always been a shy person and relied heavily on her husband to take care of household repairs and to handle financial matters. Since becoming a widow after his four year battle with prostate cancer, she has noticed that her house is in need of repair, yet she has delayed seeking home repair help.
Coincidentally, one afternoon this past spring, a house repair truck arrived at her house and two men knocked on the front door. Both men began to talk to her about the importance of keeping one’s property in top condition to protect a valuable asset. They were able to draw her out to discuss her current living situation and worries about her house. By the end of the afternoon, she had signed a contract for a new roof, repaving of her driveway, back porch repair, and new flooring in her kitchen. Since they insisted on receiving a payment before beginning work, she paid them $12,000 the next day, with another $15,000 due when the jobs were done.
Two men showed up the next day. One worked in the kitchen tearing out the old flooring, and one began to tear off the old roof, tossing the shingles into the yard around the house. On the second day, one worker showed up. When no one had arrived by 11:00 a.m. on the third day, Mrs. White called the number given to her in order to find out when the crew would return to continue the repairs. The number was disconnected. Mrs. White waited three more days while becoming increasingly frightened that she had been swindled or that something terrible had happened to the workers. On the fifth day, she spoke with her pastor when she attended church, and he contacted the police.
As it turned out, the crew had been making the rounds of several senior citizens’ homes, having determined likely victims by surveilling their homes for weeks before approaching them. Mrs. White was one of six widows who had been victimized in this manner. She lost the $12,000 she paid the crew, in spite of the fact that the perpetrators were found and prosecuted.
Mrs. White is now faced with the necessity of a new roof, new kitchen flooring, and the expense of paying for these repairs. She is angry, devastated, and increasingly depressed about having been manipulated by this scam.