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The Delaware Department of Justice’s consumer protection division today announced three charges, including separate charges against two brothers, in a series of fraud cases against senior Delaware residents.
Isaac K. Lovell, 44, of Bear, was charged July 8 with extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, home improvement fraud, and theft of more than $ 100,000, among other charges.
The indictment alleges that Isaac Lovell used his home improvement store, Phire-Fly Contracting Co., to defraud seniors, including an elderly woman from whom Lovell received over $ 600,000 between 2015 and 2017. In July, an arrest warrant was issued for Isaac Lovell. He was recently arrested in Ohio and extradited to Delaware on August 13th.
48-year-old David H. Lovell of Wilmington was charged on August 19 with fraud and home improvement fraud, among other charges. The indictment against David Lovell alleges that between 2015 and 2017 he used his home improvement business DHL & Son Contracting to defraud several elderly people. In a pattern similar to that of his brother, David Lovell convinced his victims to pay him for home improvement services he never completed.
Andrew W. Masserelli, 48, of Magnolia, was charged on August 5 with over $ 1,500 in fraud and theft. Between 2016 and 2018, Masserelli and his company Drew’s Tree Service allegedly defrauded several homeowners, including two seniors, by failing to essentially complete tree-clearing work on their property after accepting the money.
Individuals who believe they have been defrauded by any of these people or their company are encouraged to contact the Department of Justice at (302) 577-8600. Other reports of home improvement fraud should generally be directed to local law enforcement agencies.
The CPU advises Delawareeans to hire a home improvement contractor to look out for and prevent fraud by doing homework before hiring a contractor:
- Contractors should always be bound and have all necessary licenses for mechanical work.
- Get testimonials and follow up, including performing online searches and searching for companies on the Delaware Better Business Bureau website.
- Do your research and talk to friends and neighbors about a contractor’s reputation.
- Always stick to contractors in writing.
- Never pay for work in cash or in advance, keep detailed payment records, and withhold the balance until you are satisfied with the work.
As fraud victims are often embarrassed, Delawareeans with elderly relatives are advised to contact contractors prior to entering into a home improvement contract and to visit the residence regularly if home improvement work is being done.