Las Vegas couple charged with bilking seniors in home-service agreement scam
Friday, April 26—A man accused of posing as an insurance agent and his wife were charged today with bilking hundreds of San Diego County seniors out of nearly $2 million in a scam in which the couple allegedly sold phony in-home service agreements for tasks such as cooking, cleaning and bathing.
Michael Woodward, 50, and his 47-year-old wife, Melissa, were arrested at their home in Las Vegas April 10 and extradited to San Diego.
They each face up to 16 years in state prison if convicted of 11 felony counts of burglary, grand theft, theft from an elder and tax evasion.
“The defendants in this case were ruthless and heartless in the way they targeted the elderly and sold them fake insurance policies,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “We’re also encouraging anyone who bought an in-home service agreement from these defendants to come forward.”
For nearly a decade, the Woodwards swindled 238 seniors in the San Diego region out of more than $1.9 million in premiums, prosecutors allege.
The defendants would target the elderly at their homes, telling them that for a prepaid annual fee, they would have access to an unlimited amount of non-medical services such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, laundry and shopping, according to prosecutors.
To receive services, Michael Woodward allegedly told the victims they should call him and provide a doctor’s note.
In reality, the offer was a sham, according to prosecutors, who allege Woodward and his wife were the only employees of the company and were not able to provide the in-home services he promised. The most he did included paying a third party to provide the requested services, or reimbursing seniors for the expense of acquiring services on their own, authorities allege.
Inexpensive claims were often paid, but when victims made claims that were more expensive, Michael Woodward would not return phone calls and would reject the claim, according to prosecutors. The defendant is also accused of routinely returning to victims’ homes to collect additional premiums, well beyond the original cost he quoted for the plan.
—City News Service
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