A promise of home repair leads to broken dreams

Scam victim shares how she suffered biggest financial loss of her life

Headline Goes Here

Katherine Gay has a cautionary tale for others as she tried to restore her lifelong home.  She was tricked into a scam that has now cost her the only home she has ever known. 

"I trusted them," said Gay. "they fooled me."

Gay says the scam all started when a company offered to help her take out a loan and then make repairs on her home.

Some of what the company said it would do included fixing the porches, adding new siding, new windows and cutting down trees.

"I was so happy to be getting the house fixed up," said Gay.  "So happy. I wanted the house to go back to the way it was when I was young, when I was 15 years old."

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.

"In Mrs Gay's case she got new windows," said U.S. Postal Inspector Kimberly Kepling.

"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."

Postal Inspectors say Gay was one of 42 elderly victims taken in by these men; David Lasalla, Mitchell Jones and Chuck Cravotta.

"Once the mortgage loans were funded, the money was supposed to go back to the victims," said Kepling. "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."

Officials say by the time they 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.  Kepling adds, "You should also have the individuals checked out."

Unfortunately, that advice came too late for Gay, who could not afford the monthly loan payments and can't sell the house in its current condition.

"She is going to have to move because her property is being sold," said Kepling.

Meantime, 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.

Copyright 2013 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.