Forty-two elderly victims taken in home repair scam

FRESNO, Calif.

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

Happiness quickly turned to anger when Gay realized the conmen had taken the loan money but did only a few of the promised repairs.

"In Mrs. Gay's case she got new windows there is a whole list of things they were supposed to take care of and in the end they left her in worse shape than when they arrived," US postal inspector Kimberly Kepling said.

Postal inspectors say Katherine was one of 42 elderly victims taken in by David Lasalla, Mitchell Jones and Chuck Cravotta.

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

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 said it is important to thoroughly research a company before ever giving it any control over your money. But, don't just research the company.

"You should also have the individuals checked out," Kepling said.

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

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