An Awkward Moment in Time

The story which motivated the author to get involved doing his part to inform US private households towards being better informed against home fraud.   

An Awkward Moment in Time

Early in 2010, while the author was in his study searching for intriguing home improvement ideas for a DIY personal guide intended for publication, he stumbled across a starting account of home fraud. Although his intent was to prepare an illustrated pamphlet which was geared toward saving private home decision makers from the high costs entailed relying on contractors, he was caught off guard. It was the content he read online about a senior widow who was maliciously robbed again and again by the same contractor. 
When he read over and again the heinous account of this practically helpless widow, the author was especially reminded of a couple of separate incidences he witnessed firsthand wherein senior widows' own adult children ripped their homes away from them. This was done each time on fabricated premises. He vividly recalled the anguished look in their eyes knowing that their own children schemed to take possession of their homes and property by means of legally orchestrated embellishments. Succintly, when the author stumbled upon the account of the aged widow who was so atrociously bullied and intimidated by that corrupt contractor, it reminded him of those unfortunate events, both material and deeply emotional. These were enough to trigger RB into this realm of anti-home-fraud advocacy.
He thought about how powerless the victim must have felt to alter the seemingly perilous predicament she must have felt she was in. He could envision the same look of humiliation in that victim's eyes, and sense the identicle inner turmoil she experienced with apparently no way out.  Succinctly,  although the author also knew there was nothing he could do to prevent or reverse the treachery and abuse this older woman experienced at the hands of a man she trusted for help, there remained the option of at least doing something towards discouraging others from falling into that nature of entrapment.
Far From Over
For the author, this was far from being a fleeting moment. At the time worked he with a boating firm, and on off times as a handyman. But now he had an additional obligation towards doing his part disseminating preventative strategy which he has continually perfected since. Today this is priority for him. Most importantly, when reaching back to the moment he was literally shocked upon reading the account of that elder woman being so avariciously swindled, although he knew he was powerless turning back the clock, he was very capable of  injecting himself into the cause to assist sharing vital information toward averting it from happening to others, irrespective of age and other factors which often come into play.

Ode to Mrs. Stacey Thomas

Forward note for young adults:
Right now millions are still enjoying life as young adults. You may be in this number. Yet, as you may be a young and restless private home decision maker, you will very likely awaken one day and suddenly realize you can no longer do a lot of the things in, on, and around your home. It happens. In truth, this is mentioned since these revelations may also be useful to prepare you against being in this sort of bind with dishonest home service contractors during your twilight years. Subsequently, the facts and the circumstances revealed here can be advantageous against getting ‘caught like this’ as a senior when you are ‘old and still restless.’ Now for our story:
Mrs. Stacey Thomas
Of all the recent and not so recent accounts of these attacks on our senior private home decision makers, this is among the most traumatic events which will really tear us apart. This unfortunate incident transpired a while back in Cheektowaga, New York: 2009. To many of us, this story represents an epitome of corrupt residential contractor depredation and aggression against our senior private home decision makers. ‘Mrs. Stacey Thomas’ is actually the pseudonym for the actual victim. For our purposes, let us just refer to her as Mrs. Thomas. She is the senior citizen who, in her efforts to allay the discomforting fits of rage and negative innuendos of threat from an inept home service contractor, wrote a lot of undue of checks to him. This report conveys how Mrs. Thomas hired a man who apparently did not know how to do any of the work she needed done. In spite of not being as skilled as he claimed, he still demanded to get paid. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine a situation when you say you are not going to pay a contractor for not doing what you hired him to, and he gets angry, then starts breathing all kinds of threats? Or he goes through the motions or gives you a look suggesting if you did not comply there would be repercussions?
The Hard Facts
It is a fact that a lot of bad contractors can conduct themselves so abrasively and not worry about legal consequences. Although there are a number of seniors who really will not tolerate being bullied, there are some surprisingly caught in the presence of them, and are reasonably intimidated into not visualizing an escape route. This was the predicament of Mrs. Thomas. She was physically too frail and psychologically subdued at this point. She was justifiably fearful of this man. She lived alone. The awkward resident-contractor relationship began over the phone. The deceptive home service contractor, whom we will dub Mr. Sykes, was engaged in cold or unsolicited phone calls. We have no idea of how he managed to get her number. Perhaps it was through the telephone directory used in those days or online. The report does not go into depth about exactly what he said to convince Mrs. Thomas to invite him to her house. To this effect, there was only general information which did not include those details. There was only enough data to give us a pretty good idea of how this collaboration began.
Of course, this is a very precarious situation, but as King Solomon so aptly mentioned in paraphrase: there is really nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 In reality, when we give place to a great big mess, that is what we are going to get. Unknowingly, this is what Mrs. Thomas experienced. We do not know the number of calls he made before he finally connected with Mrs. Thomas. But we can be certain that whatever he said was convincing enough for her to give him the contract. One of the key snares Mr. Sykes reportedly used during the first phone call was that he was a fair man. He probably gave her the impression that everyone else was out to rip her off. Who knows what he said or how he said it to convince her to open the doors to her home. Conceivably, he said anything and everything he could to convince her that he was an upstanding, honest, and squeaky clean sort of professional.
Flagrant Intimidation
Anyway, whatever Mr. Sykes conveyed to clinch the deal, it worked. However, aside from that it does not seem he was as useful as he pretended. Still in all, he did a lot of collecting and spending of undeserved down payments. Ironically, in the beginning, he promised to do a lot of the repairs, refurbishments, and installations for hardly anything. He said his rates were reasonable. Quite joyfully, Mrs. Thomas was ‘reasonable’ enough to write him the first advance check. Records do not specify the amount, but one thing for sure, it was a lot more than he actually worked for. None of the work he did in or around that home matched up to Mrs. Thomas’ expectations. In spite of that, she reportedly signed over to this man approximately 71, different checks, over a period of about 7 months.
Believably so, some individuals will question Mrs. Thomas’ sanity in this case, others will not. There is no simple answer. We do not know exactly what specific forces were at work to cause Mrs. Thomas to continue signing over checks to someone who was clearly a scammer. Objectively, this much we know: fear is a very powerful weapon, even more so because it originates within us. We fear because it is a natural response to unfavorable events real, imagined, or both. We fear, sensing that this will keep us from evil or from being hurt in some way. Disappointingly, we are hurt, anyway. Fear and insecurity are inseparable. In this case, the apparent terror forced Mrs. Thomas to give him money to first allay the perceived wrath of his anger, second, to stave off its flaring up, again. As a result, Mr. Sykes’ anger or his displays of rage, were very daunting to Mrs. Thomas. In her own words: ‘When I would complain about how the work was progressing, he would sometimes get very angry, and assure me that the work was first rate.’ Then she goes on to say: ‘As I felt intimidated, I always relented. Similarly, if I questioned a demand for payment, he would sometimes become angry, and I would relent.' End.
Involuntary Submission
When everything is all said and done, he duped Mrs. Thomas into submission to his demands for more payment. She was 88 years old, a widow, and not in very good physical health. By appearance, she was all alone without anyone else to turn to. This sort of thing gives rise to the suspicion that she was targeted because she was a senior living all by herself. Seniors Targeted.
He had to be stopped, otherwise, he may have continued siphoning money from Mrs. Thomas until she had none left. She could have lost her home and most of what was in it. Fortunately, the break finally came when Mr. Sykes, the contractor, attempted to cash another check at the bank. Grievously so, this was the seventy-first check Mrs. Thomas wrote for him, as mentioned, in the space of about 7 months. Now he was at the teller’s window to cash it. Sorry, Mr. Sykes, but this time, the teller was not going to cash it for you. The teller righteously refused to cash the check. We can just about envision the expression on his face when that happened. It is very likely he tried to intimidate the clerk as he did the 88-year old woman. But the teller was not buying. In his frustration, Mr. Sykes took off to get Mrs. Thomas to cash the check for him. Evidently, she really was not very happy about that . Then again despite this being a bit too much for him to demand, her predicament was such that he left no option. Doubtless he cared.
Judgment Day
As the story evolves it becomes plausible that he was so blinded by collecting more undeserved money that he was unable to see the trouble he was in. The teller was very probably familiar with the fact that Mrs. Thomas was a physically and mentally fragile woman in her eighties. If not that, the teller might have suspected him of elder abuse. Ironically, through forcing Mrs. Thomas to leave her home just to authorize the bank to cash the check for him, it became that much more convenient for Mrs. Thomas to be finally relieved of this flagrant abuse. It was a God-send. At least it was for her. Apparently the contractor just did not get it. The bank was on to him. Without a doubt, it does not seem he realized the trouble he was in. He just did not register the fact that it was game over. Here is how he was finally stopped: When Mr. Sykes, returned to the bank with Mrs. Thomas, he waited outside. He probably thought he would be getting paid again. He was getting paid all right, but not in the way he thought. Needless to say, while Mrs. Thomas was in the bank, she was interviewed and consoled by the bank manager. After hearing her story of being psychologically terrorized by that man, the police were summoned. The ‘villain’ was identified standing outside. Summarily, law enforcement kindly arrested our hero, escorted him to jail, and in time, the judge politely sentenced him to prison with full restitution requirements. Seven years! Meanwhile, of all Mrs. Thomas went through, she was impelled to live with the despair of having been divested of over $82,000.
Special Emphasis: This report was originally released via the Office of then Attorney General of the state of New York, the Hon. Andrew Mark Cuomo. He became Governor of that state 2 years later, 2011. Finally, in hindsight, it can also suffice to mention, although the Mrs. Thomas' story first came to the author’s attention in 2010, one year after the initial report broke, this refreshed rendition can serve as a scathing warning of the fact that these attacks on or against our senior citizens are not isolated to any specific time, region, or place. They are very much on-going across the nation. On the overall, there is no end to this pillage. However, for you and the aged people you love and are concerned about, these chronicles of home fraud can prove to be an effective self-help- guide towards thwarting others who may not have your best interests in mind. For sure, you might find that it is to your advantage to regularly bear in mind that there have been, there are, and there will be more victims like Mrs. Thomas, more bullies like Mr. Sykes. You may want to avoid being in this kind of situation, irrespective of age. It would certainly be helpful to be on alert through continually developing your abilities towards knowing as much as you possibly can about contract firms and the contractors who own them. Be sure to learn as much as you can about them before arriving at a hiring decision. You can also delegate the research to a trusted friend or personal assistant. Hopefully, your protocol for hiring is a lot more effective. 

Note: Mrs. Stacey Thomas story is a subsection of the author's eBook suitably titled, Defeating Home Fraud in America - Begins with You, Chapter Two.

Way Back When

RB Roberts in his study in 2010, around the time he learned about the tragic story of the senior victimized by an extremely abusive contractor she trusted with her money to assist making repairs around her home. The pseudonym the author has given her is Mrs. Stacey Thomas.

Better Decisions, Better Results