Two Georgia brothers will serve up to 20 years in prison after being convicted of running a roofing scam that specifically targeted the elderly, DeKalb County authorities announced.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Keith Ogles, 50, of Jonesboro, and Jeffrey Ogles, 52, of Griffin, both pleaded guilty to charges of financial exploitation of the elderly and home repair fraud. The two must serve at least 10 years of their sentence in prison and will be required to pay $100,000 in restitution to their victims.
During their scam, the brothers significantly overcharged four seniors for roofing work that ultimately did damage to these roofs, rather than improving them. When one of the victims refused to make additional payments to the men, the two threatened to tear up his roof, authorities said.
“This pair deliberately preyed on elderly victims, who were all in their eighties, and demanded payments that reached over $130,000,” DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said. “This was a calculated scheme that targeted and exploited elderly homeowners.”
One of the victims, an 89-year-old woman suffering from short-term memory loss, ended up paying the brothers more than $40,000 for a job that ought to have cost less than $1,500. Because the woman couldn’t remember them ever doing work on her home, the brothers charged her over and over.
“This is an issue in most states; usually these scammers are soliciting their services door to door, they use high pressure sales tactics and promise homeowners ridiculous deals if they sign a contract and give them money that day,” says Peter Kiwior, Owner, Pro Home Services Inc. “The best way to protect yourself from scams like that is to check with your local Better Business Bureau or Secretary of State to see if the business is registered and incorporated, ask your neighbors or friends for referral if you need a contractor, don’t sign any documents with blank spaces and be suspicious when someone is soliciting their business knocking on your door.”
Authorities first became aware of the Ogles’ scam in November 2014, when the 89-year-old woman tried to withdraw $16,000 in cash from her bank, Wells Fargo. The bank alerted authorities, and Atlanta police fraud investigators soon uncovered the over-payment scheme.
On Nov. 24, an elderly couple who had paid the Ogles brothers more than $20,000 for roofing work came home to find the brothers on their roof, uninvited. They called the police, who then arrested the two on prior warrants they had obtained.
Because so many home improvement scams target the elderly and other vulnerable members of the community, James stressed that improved vigilance against these scams is necessary.
“We all have to be vigilant in making sure that our parents and grandparents are not being taken advantage of and exploited by criminals like the Ogles brothers,” James said in a statement. “Far too often, we hear of similar crimes that involve caregivers and even other family members who take advantage of vulnerable adults.”