Burlington, NC -Ten people in several North Carolina counties have been charged in a home repair fraud ring. More than $300,000 was taken from the victims, all of which were seniors.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, Burlington, Cary and Raleigh Police made the arrests as part of Operation Nail It, a multi-agency investigative unit assigned to ending the fraud ring.
Authorities say the suspects targeted the elderly, and offered to perform work on their homes. Once the suspects gained the victim's trust, authorities say they would do more extensive, and unnecessary work and charge high prices.
WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke to the son of a Burlington man who was targeted and lost more than $30,000.
Dan Gibson says his father, Howard, fit the profile.
He was 90-years-old, very trusting, and had difficulty getting around by himself.
So when a few men knocked on his door and claimed he needed work done on his house, Dan's father said "sure."
The men "did" their job, got paid, and came back. They offered more work and got more money.
But Dan's father didn't need any home repairs. Dan says the men, "charged him exuberant prices for the work that they didn't do."
"The very idea that somebody could even think of doing this to somebody who is defenseless, doesn't say too much for their character," said Gibson.
Dan lives in Texas but as soon as he discovered his father had been taken, he went to police.
He also says he had a "tough" conversation with his father, who passed away just two months ago.
"My advice to anyone who thinks their parents may be susceptible to that is to get nosey and start looking around," Gibson said. "And maybe become a little more suspicious and be a little tougher on them then maybe I was on my dad. Maybe if I'd been a little bit tougher in the beginning, he might have only been hit once or twice."
He added that for some, it's a tough realization that "the possibility is there that their parents who were their guiding light growing up, who taught them how to get along, how to be good to other people, how to succeed, that all of a sudden you're going to have to turn around and remind them of this is the way you are supposed to do things. Be careful, don't trust people you don't know, if you smell something fishy, call me."
Burlington Police arrested Michael Bryan Strickland Friday and charged him with obtaining property by false pretense, conspiracy, and exploitation of the elderly. Christopher David Fountain has also been charged in connection with this case.
"It's heinous that a lot of these people are giving their life savings away to people who are doing nothing for them," explained Detective Steven Reed, Burlington Police Department.
Detective Reed says Dan's father was targeted more than 10 times and paid Strickland more than $30,000.
He can't guarantee the family will see that money again.
"It's probable that it's long gone," he said.
At this point, he says Gibson is the only victim that came forward, but believes there are possibly more in the Burlington area.
He says if you think you've been targeted by these schemers, call Burlington Police.
How do you talk to your parents about the risk and reality of these schemes?
Leslie Sanders from Home Instead Senior Care says always remember you are talking to an adult.
-You know your parents best - and can gauge how tough you need to be.
-Help your parents make a plan. Discuss possible schemes and figure out the best way to react.
-It's best to be a partner to your parents and let them know you are always there to help
For more information on how to communicate with your parents about these schemes, click here
WFMY News 2