Veteran speaks out against alleged contract scam
MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Back in August, we shared with you the story of a disabled veteran who needed help to fix her house before code enforcement kicked her out. Now—she’s speaking out against the contractor who allegedly scammed her—and many others.
“It’s been a long, bumpy road, and the gentleman that frauded, took the money and ran,” said Rebekah Mayes, the disabled veteran who alleges she was scammed.
A contractor claiming to work for World Wide Property Manegment (that is how it’s spelled on the business card) allegedly scammed Mayes out of $2,500—money that she received from the Military Family Relief Fund back in November.
We were asked not to reveal his name since the case is still open in St. Joseph County.
She had sought out the contractor’s service in November to get her patchy and peeling house back up to code standards.
“I did my homework. I checked on the company. I checked to see if they were BBB-certified. I did everything I thought I was supposed to. The one thing I didn’t do is, people you need to remember this is, does this individual work for you? I didn’t ask that question, and that’s where I got in trouble,” said Mayes.
“There are a number of things consumers can do to protect themselves. Number one, they should never ever pay for the entire job upfront,” said Stephen Drendall, a local consumer attorney.
Unfortunately, Rebekah did.
“When I finally got it through my head that hey this guy scammed you, I finally went and saw a detective at the Mishawaka Police Department,” said Mayes.
The department then turned it over to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office to charge him with theft and home improvement fraud.
“That is really rare, and I’m happy to see that that’s happening here. We’ve had some cases of rip-off artists that have been charged criminally, but it doesn’t happen very often,” said Drendall.
Upon further digging, we discovered the same man has seven other similar cases, many including check deception, in La Porte, Starke and two other Indiana counties, dating as far back as 2002.
“Somebody needs to stand up, and that’s what I do as a veteran advocate, I stand up for veterans. Well doggone it, I should stand up for myself and my daughter and I,” said Mayes.
A permit is required to hang in her front window until the project is completed, so Rebekah refuses to let it remain unfinished business.
“It’s kind of like carrying a rucksack up a mountain in the military. You’re like I’m so tired. My feet hurt, my back hurts, my head hurts, and then when you get to the top, you’re like praise God, hallelujah, I made it, and it’s like I’m looking up to get to the top of the mountain, and when we get there, it will be a happy dance, praise God, Hallelujah,” she said.