Cary arrest highlights home-repair scams that prey on elderly, others

rgallagher@newsobserver.comMarch 8, 2013 

Randall Lee Joyner

WAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

  • Tips for protecting against repair scams • Do not accept unsolicited work offers from people who come to your door. • Anyone who needs repair work done should get quotes from more than one reputable contractor. • Children should ask elders’ friends and neighbors to watch out for strange people and call the children when they see such activity. • Children should, if possible, gain as much control as they can over their parents finances to be a buffer for payments. • Children and friends can visit seniors frequently and talk about any work that is being done. • Banks can watch out for unusual amounts of repeated transactions by elderly customers and alert authorities.

  • Companies named in arrest warrants for Randall Lee Joyner • Quality Roofing and Guttering • William’s Roofing and Guttering• Larry’s Roofing and Repair

— When roofer Randall Lee Joyner went to a 78-year-old man’s home Thursday, ready to do home repairs for the 11th time since June, he found Cary police detectives waiting to charge him with taking $63,836 for work that was “unnecessary ... minimal and substandard” and sometimes not even finished.

Police also charged Joyner, 30, of Rocky Mount with scamming the man’s 81-year-old neighbors, saying he went to them eight times and collected $25,650.

Detectives handcuffed Joyner a few weeks after a state task force that includes Cary officers was formed to target home-repair scams. Protecting seniors is especially difficult, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday.

“It takes someone pretty low to take advantage of seniors,” Cooper said, but there are “a lot of scam artists out there” who are willing to do it.

In Cary, police said it was a caring bank employee who alerted them that checks were repeatedly clearing the man’s account for work on the house. Cooper said bankers are one of the lines of defense against the rip-offs, along with children, neighbors and friends who can watch out for seniors.

“It’s an involvement issue by people who know the senior,” he said.

Cary police lodged 57 charges against Joyner, including 19 counts each of obtaining property by false pretense, exploiting the trust of a disabled or elderly person and conspiracy. Magistrates set Joyner’s bail at $1.2 million.

The conspiracy charges come from what Lt. Steve Fonke said was Joyner’s work with four men – Larry House, William Ferrell, Christopher Fountain and Robert Privette – who are named in the warrants.

Cooper’s office warned the public in 2010 that complaints about roofing scams were rising. In August 2011, an alert from the state to local law enforcement agencies said members of a home-repair ring were “up to their old tricks” after being broken up in the 1990s.

In the case of the Cary elders, Fonke said, Joyner went to their door saying he had noticed work that needed to be done, then returned again and again.

“They build a relationship, and they keep coming back to that well,” Fonke said. “They befriend you.”

Scammers “endear themselves” to their victims, Fonke said. “These older people trust these guys.”

Cooper said three factors help make elderly residents especially vulnerable. For starters, they tend to come from a time when people could be more trusting, he said.

Seniors also have been savers and often have money for repairs, Cooper said, and they sometimes have health issues that make them easy marks.

The Cary man Joyner is accused of bilking has Parkinson’s disease and limited mobility that kept him from being able to check on the work.

His neighbors also “suffer health issues that limit their mobility,” the arrest warrants said.

Especially galling, Fonke said, is that scammers “are taking money that these people are counting on for retirement.”

“The money is gone,” he said, and there is seldom if ever a chance of getting restitution if suspects are convicted.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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