Valley View Estates residents turned to the Shiloh Board of Trustees last week, seeking help in their fight against an independent contractor they allege took defrauded around $52,000 from multiple people.
“We’re having a real problem, and if you can help us in any way, shape or form, we would greatly, greatly appreciate it,” said Becky Rasmussen, Valley View property manager.
During the Monday, Oct. 23 board meeting, Rasmussen, in the company of some of the alleged victims, pleaded with Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier and trustees to rally support from Shiloh Police to start an investigation into the contractor, they allege bilked victims who were trying to purchase a manufactured home or seeking repairs.
“Just to be advised, he has been evicted or is in the process of being evicted. My guess is he’s gonna end up someplace else in Shiloh,” Rasmussen said.
Vernier told the group he felt terrible for them and “anyone else that’s been scammed by that individual.”
“I think the main thing you can help everybody with is making sure everybody where you live knows about this individual, and we’ll do our best to make sure everybody else in the region knows about him as well,” Vernier said.
Gary McGill, Shiloh’s assistant police chief, said his ability to comment was limited due to “the cases are open and in the beginning stages of an investigation.”
“But I can state that we are currently working four open fraud cases that include the issuance of bad checks,” McGill said.
However, much of what was said at the meeting had never before been reported to police, McGill said.
“I would like to point out that we had no reports made from these victims prior to their arrival at the board meeting,” McGill said.
The alleged fraud
According to Rasmussen, the independent contractor has helped sell homes for in the community for about six year with no issues, until recently.
“For years, he worked here with no problem. Then all of a sudden, in the last year, things we couldn’t explain were happening, and people were coming to the office and complaining. It’s just been a mess,” Rasmussen said.
Alleged victim Jill Beckering attended the meeting and spoke to the board through tears. Beckering said her husband is very ill with a severe type of cancer, and she and her husband needed a place to call home while she cared for him. She said she trusted the contractor when she signed an allegedly fraudulent contract and handed him $18,000 cash for a mobile home at Valley View Estates. Beckering the mobile home, which she also claimed wasn’t the contractor’s to sell, was filled with mold, leaving the couple with no where to live.
“We told him to return (the money), and he said, ‘No, because she signed a contract,’” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen said she and her boss tried calling and setting up meetings with the contractor, but she said he “always had other things come up and couldn’t make it.”
Rasmussen said, “We want to help these people.”
Several other people also detailed accounts to the board, saying they allegedly paying thousands for new decks that were never built, and thousands dollars in cash being handed over for down payments on homes that weren’t sellable.
“He was using Boatman Homes contracts, not his own, so people are holding us responsible when really we are victims, too,” Rasmussen said. “He was doing all of this without us knowing, taking people’s money and we never saw any of it.”
Checks for $18,000 and $5,000 that the contractor sent to Boatman Homes in attempts at retribution never went through, Rasmussen said.
“The checks bounced,” she said.
Vicki Hodges, another alleged victim who attended the board meeting, said she lost about $13,000 when she bought a home through the contractor. Not long after moving in, she discovered mold and things not working properly.
“Finding all kinds of problems, she literally had to do a rehab on the place,” Rasmussen said.
Donna Keim and Keith Meagher put a down payment of $4,000 on a Boatman home, but never saw that money again — and they aren’t new homeowners, either.
“He sold a home that literally can’t get a clear title on it, so the house can’t be sold, but he took $4,000 from these people. We have a salvage title on it, so if and when it can no longer be fixed or useful, it has to go to the shredder or the junk yard,” Rasmussen said.
Since the meeting, Rasmussen victims, including Boatman Home, have been working with police.
“He ripped off a lot of good people, and a lot of them are looking to us to fix the problem, but we are just as much of a victim as they are,” she said.