5 On Your Side

Elderly man bamboozled out of $91,000

Posted December 10, 2009
Updated December 11, 2009

Senior citizens are often targets for unscrupulous people looking to make an easy buck. It could happen to your parents or your grandparents or even you.

5 On Your Side hears from lots of people who have been taken advantage of, but this case is really serious. In less than two months, an elderly Wake County man was bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars.

5oys house contractor scam Robert Britt Man scammed by shoddy construction

Robert Britt’s story is a lesson for all of us.

Kenneth Lewis and several other men told Robert Britt in March that his house needed work. Britt’s daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Britt, said the men did little work. The work they did was unnecessary and poorly done.

She said they installed "indoor" doors on Britt's outdoor workshop, never finished a promised paint job, installed insulation backwards and did not add house support jacks as they claimed.

“One of the pump jacks that we touched, it just fell over,” she said.

The men provided Robert Britt with boilerplate "contractor's invoices" that did not list any company information. He said they then filled out his blank checks and got him to sign them.

“There were some of them written for $8,000,” Elizabeth Britt said. “When I was looking at his check registry, he had it written down as $800.”

In May, Robert Britt’s bank called suspecting something was wrong. Elizabeth was horrified when she found out how much money was gone. She found her father-in-law had spent more than $90,000.

“I was quite upset,” she said. “How could somebody do this to an elderly person?”

Checks to Lewis total almost $68,000. He has quite a history of fraud charges in both Edgecombe and Nash counties and now faces similar charges in Cary. Brandon Reams and Chris Newton are also charged in Britt's case.

“I think they're opportunists,” Cary police Lt. Steve Fonke said. “They think about nothing but their own well being. Victimizing someone and taking every penny they have wouldn't cause these guys to lose a minute of sleep.”

Fonke said he believes Britt was a target.

“It just seems to be a generational thing,” he said. “The older American comes from maybe a more trusting generation, but they're dealing with people who clearly aren't to be trusted.”

“They're a bunch of crooks,” Robert Britt said he knows now.

“There's no reason for somebody to do this to anybody. He would have given the shirt off his back, and he pretty much did,” his daughter-in-law said.

Lewis and Newton were still at large. Anyone with information about there whereabouts is asked to call the Cary Police Department at 919-469-4012‎.

8 Comments

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  • srhodes4 Dec 15, 11:03 a.m.

    Mr. Britt, I'm very sorry for what has happened to you. Some people are not only heartless but, also brainless as well. I know people have offered to help you and I'm doing the same. I'm unemployed right now and I know some carpentry, so let me know what I can do, of course,no charge. To "Bubba", let me know what you have in mind. srhodes4@nc.rr.com

  • fiesty Dec 14, 1:42 p.m.

    bubbba:

    I think that is a great thing that you have offered to help this man. Wish I was able to help also. People like you are what keeps me believing that there are a few good people left in this world!!

  • AFLOWERS Dec 14, 1:40 p.m.

    Need more people like you Bubba ! ! God will definitely bless you for that.... Wish I could help....

  • just mine Dec 11, 12:19 p.m.

    To animal lover:
    Their pics are on the story, the picyure of the house says 1/2

  • CestLaVie Dec 11, 10:59 a.m.

    Since two of these guys are still at large, why not post THEIR pics, instead of the victim??

  • TomLynda Dec 11, 10:45 a.m.

    bubbba:

    With my health I can't do much now, but can some. Let me know.

  • dmj Dec 11, 10:27 a.m.

    This story is horrendous. These guys need to burn.

  • bubbba Dec 11, 9:22 a.m.

    I volunteer to help fix this man's house for him.
    Anybody wanna help?