A Texas couple has been sentenced to prison for a home renovation scheme.
The couple would promise a home renovation worth thousands of dollars, destroy customers’ homes and then leave with the money, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The scheme, which took place from February-December 2017, mainly targeted elderly victims.
Tommy Ray Williams, 44, and Whitney Jane Law, 33, must pay $820,900 in restitution to their 18 victims.
“The defendants are scammers that took more than money. They stole their victims’ sense of home. Their schemes demanded payment, destroyed property and left behind worry and regret,” said Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office.
Here’s how the home renovation scheme went down, according to the federal complaint:
Williams would get remodeling referrals through the Home Advisor website and would arrange inspections with homeowners. He visited the customers’ homes alone or with his associates and provided a bid for the service.
Before starting each project, Williams would require a large payment followed by another when the work started. He said it was needed to cover the cost of materials. People would then arrive at the customer’s home to start the demolition, which included destroying plumbing, wallboards, walls and roofing. Then, the working crew would stop coming, the renovation would be left unfinished and Williams would not respond to customers, nor return their money.
Law knew about the fraud, but didn’t contact the police, the Department of Justice said. She even helped hide the crime at least once by changing the name of their account and using a different business name on Home Advisor.
Williams and Law used the money they made in the scheme at casinos and to buy new cars.
Williams was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Law was sentenced to 18 months in prison for failing to report the fraud, according to the Department of Justice.