Friday, July 27, 2007

Contractor Convicted of Defrauding Elderly Man

MANCHESTER – A local contractor was convicted of scamming a 72-year-old Manchester man of $4,000 and failing to re-roof his house as promised, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced yesterday.

After a trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court, the state found George Sideris of Manchester committed an unfair or deceptive business act or practice in violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, Ayotte said.

The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit of the Attorney General's office reported that Sideris took the $4,000 as a deposit to buy building materials for the job, then failed to perform the work and never returned the money despite the man's repeated requests to do so.
The victim alleged during testimony at trial that Sideris used "pressure tactics, false promises and outright lies" to induce him to enter into an agreement, according to the Attorney General's office.

The prosecution introduced evidence at the trial that Sideris never obtained a building permit to repair the victim's roof. A call to Sideris' residential listing, seeking comment on the case, was not returned last night.

The Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit was established in 2006 to pursue and prosecute cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation statewide.

"It sends a clear message to the community that crimes against seniors, particularly home improvement fraud, will not be tolerated and anyone engaging in such behavior will be prosecuted," Ayotte said in her announcement. "Second, the conviction should encourage other seniors who have been similarly victimized to report the crimes to the police."

Nationally, only one in 14 cases of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are ever reported, Ayotte said.

Contractor fraud remains a priority for the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Bureau, which continues to try to convince state lawmakers to support legislation to better regulate or certify home improvement contractors. Several industry groups have already expanded professional and training standards, seeking to weed out what they say are only a few bad or deceptive contractors.

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