PHOENIX -- Phoenix police lend a hand to an elderly woman who found herself victim of a home repair scam.
Charlie Mae Johnson is retired and in her early 70s. When she realized she needed to replace the carpet in her west valley home, she started putting away her money. “This young lady saved all the money she could for over a year just to get new carpet in her home,” says Phoenix Police Officer Jeff Holmes.
But the handyman Charlie Mae hired to do the work scammed her instead. Police say Roger Guy Stowe took off with Johnson’s payment of $1,200, and never returned to do the work. “This young lady saved all the money she could for over a year just to get new carpet in her home.”
When Detective Michelle Dalton from the Phoenix Police Property Crimes Bureau was assigned the case, she was deeply moved by Charlie Mae's situation. “She got the case and she said you know, this just isn't right,” says Holmes.
Detective Dalton contacted Angels On Patrol as well as members of the Maryvale Precinct Community Action squad to try to get some assistance for Charlie Mae. Soon, everyone was offering to pitch in and help, including several community members and businesses who donated carpet, paint and landscaping rock. “The word got out. People came together. Businesses came together. And today we’re going to do a great thing for Charlie Mae,” Holmes tells us.
Early Thursday morning, dozens of volunteers showed up, ready to work. They spent hours painting Charlie Mae’s house, installing new carpet and laying rock in her front yard. Johnson was overwhelmed with gratitude. “I’m just happy this morning. Very happy,” she says. “I got scammed and look what I got.”
Phoenix detectives warn that a scam like this can happen to anyone. Your best bet is to always go with a contractor with a good reputation. And never pay all the money up front. “We always say find a licensed contractor, someone that we can verify is a good business person as well as someone who’s got the skills to do what you’re looking for,” Officer Holmes states.
As for the contractor who allegedly swindled Johnson: police tell us Stowe has a history of scamming people for money while promising to do home improvement work. In fact, Stowe has an outstanding felony warrant for fraudulent schemes.