VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A 61-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for committing construction fraud against a 92-year-old World War II veteran in Virginia Beach.
Francisco Gomez, formerly of Moyock, pleaded guilty to the construction fraud charges in May.
According to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Gomez entered into a contract with the 92-year-old victim in June 2016 to remove and replace the victim’s roof.
The total cost of the job was $11,000. The victim gave Gomez a check for $7,000 to start the job with the agreement that the remaining $4,000 would be paid when the job was complete.
Gomez cashed the check the day it was written, but never started the job.
After many attempts to contact Gomez and many excuses, the victim contacted Virginia Beach Police.
Police told the victim to mail a letter by certified mail return receipt to Gomez’s last known address requesting a return of the $7,000. The victim did so, but Gomez never attempted to return any of the money or did any work on the roof.
Gomez has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1995 and has a history of committing these types of offenses against the elderly. His prior record includes Obtaining Property by False Pretenses (7 counts), Contempt (2 counts), Operate without Business License, Conduct without Business License, and Obtain Money through Mental Incapacity (2 counts).
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office offers the following advice to help avoid becoming a victim of construction fraud:
- Never pay the full price of a job before it’s done; pay in increments as work is completed.
- If you pay in advance for the contractor to purchase materials, make sure they arrive at your home along with invoices indicating what was bought and paid.
- Pay with a personal check or credit card, which can be tracked more easily than cash.
- Don’t do business with contractors who knock on your door; find listed, licensed, and insured local construction companies.
- Get at least three written estimates.