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Gwinnett homeowners targeted in elderly scam

A Cobb County grand jury has indicted five people on racketeering charges in a scam targeting senior citizens in Gwinnett and four other Georgia counties.

The indictment charged Helen Johnson, Larry McGill, Nicholas Mitchell, Rocky Mitchell and Gidget Williams with conspiring to defraud 25 elderly victims of more than $74,500 in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Walton counties.

The indictment alleges that between July, 2011 and Feb. 15, 2013, the accusers would target homeowners with an offer for an exterior home cleaning service or home improvement service, such as roofing or driveway sealing. Typically the crew member would quote a price and tell the homeowner the charge was a flat rate, the state Attorney General’s office said in a news release. The homeowner would agree to the work and the price.

The scam allegedly came after the work was finished when the crew told the homeowners that the quoted price was actually price per volume, and they used more materials or product than expected.

Many homeowners believed that they could not protest the higher amount, while some attempted to negotiate a lower payment. The homeowners then paid a higher amount to the defendants through cash or personal check.

In one case, an elderly couple paid $39,280 over nine transactions, while the promised work was never finished.

Racketeering is punishable by five to 20 years imprisonment, a $25,000 fine or three times the amount of any value gained.

The case was investigated by the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Roswell Police Department.