Q: She used her son’s social security number to get her utilities turned on and to get rebates. We reported her to the gas and light company and are waiting for information. Can she get arrested? Can she go to jail? (Pitcairn, PA)
A: She has committed the crime of Fraud and maybe Theft of Services. Whether you will have the joy of seeing her lose her housing, yes, but going to jail, probably not, she will probably get probation, especially if she has no criminal history.
Q: I am receiving calls from a mediation service for a debt I’m not sure I even owe. I have dealt with the company they claim to represent about 3 years ago. They have threatened to file felony theft charges with the district attorney if I do not pay immediately. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: They sound like scammers, flim-flam men, con-artists, shysters, grifters, sleaze merchants, crooks, fleecers, con artists, hustlers, swindlers, bilkers, bunco artists, cheaters, clip artists and altogether bad men or women. If you were to be arrested, the police would contact you and no one else. These algae eater, bottom feeders are hoping you are gullible enough to pay them by credit card. Don’t do it and tell them to go pound salt!
Q: I called the Attorney General’s office yesterday and was told it looks good on my behalf that I’m already making payments towards case. I don’t want to go to jail. I do not have a criminal record, and I honestly do not remember receiving LI-HEAP energy assistance. I honestly do not remember but I believe I was getting child support at that time! However, I do not honestly recall Wesley living here in 2015 or 2016. I believe at the time he was living with his then girlfriend in Maryland but am not sure. I do suffer from ADD and am taking medication for it. (Everett, PA)
A: I do not practice law in your county. In my county people generally do not go to jail for welfare fraud or similar crimes unless the case involves a lot of money and the behavior is indicative of true criminal intent. You need to be represented by an attorney. You may be eligible for a first-time offender’s program called ARD, especially if you can make payments within the limits of your probationary period.
Q: I purchased a home in Pittsburgh, PA and when I viewed the home it had a sinkhole along the front yard property line. The realtor explained it was due to a broken storm drain pipe and the break was on the neighbor’s side of the property line. The neighbor refused to fix it, so the seller agreed to have it fixed as it was causing issue with the seller’s property (front yard). Six months later there is now a sinkhole in the back yard. The township said the pipe zigzags between my property line and the neighbor’s property line and they can’t force either one of us to fix it as it is private property. This sinkhole is on my property line, so I now I need to fix it. The seller home disclosure did not state any knowledge of this drain pipe or that I would have to fix it. Do I have a case for a fraudulent seller disclosure? (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: These cases are fact driven and hard to prove, and more facts need to be known. However, it is worth a legal consultation. To prove fraud, I believe you need to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or had reason to know of the problem you are alleging and tried to conceal it from you. It is a hard standard, but more facts are needed to determine if you have a claim.
Q: In my previous job I worked at, four gift cards for $50.00 a piece were stolen=$200.00. I used one of the stolen gift cards for $50.00 and two other people related to me used the remaining three gift cards ($150.00) but they were not charged. Am I only accountable for the $50.00 I used or can I still be convicted for the whole $200.00 even though I only used $50.00? Also, they have blurry surveillance cameras that “it looks like me” and they used cellphone towers to say I was in the area.
A: I would need more details, but if you stole the four gift cards you are criminally liable for four gift cards, whether you only used one, or even none. I would find yourself a lawyer and not talk about this case anyone other than your lawyer.
Q: A family member moved in with my grandmother sold her house. My grandmother’s name was forged on the documents. We need to get it back.
A: I do believe your recourse is by hiring an attorney file a petition to rescind fraudulent transfer or a quiet title action. If you are correct this transfer was done through fraud. If grandmother is competent and can testify that the signature on the deed is not hers and she did not sign, the case is easier. If she is incompetent to testify, it will be a little more involved. You may need her doctor to testify of her mental competence at the time the deed was supposedly signed and perhaps even a handwriting expert. I would see an attorney as soon as possible so something can be filed before the house is transferred again.
Q: Mother is elderly living in a nursing home. Severe dementia, however not ruled as incompetent by a court (because it was never an issue before…). Relative in another state passes and evidently my mother was a beneficiary to her life insurance policy. When this relative passed, they sent paperwork to my mother to file the claim. My brother (who is estranged from the family but does visit her) somehow got this claim information. No one else, including myself, knew anything about it. He files the claim, gets her to sign it, a check is issued. I learned of this by finding some random paperwork in her room and researching. After talking with the insurance company and providing my POA they tell me the check was cashed BY HER (I saw a copy, it’s indeed her signature) to a bank account I know nothing about. My assumption is that he ‘added’ her to his bank account and had her deposit the check in it. I called the bank, they won’t talk to me without a court order even with the POA. I know crimes have been committed, but I’m not sure where to start. APS? Police? If she signed it ‘willingly’ is there even any crime since she is not ruled incompetent by a court?
A: Calling Adult Protective Services and the police are good starts. Also, as soon as possible, get an opinion in writing from her doctor that states at the time the check was signed she was incompetent. If you cannot get any resolution through APS or the police, hire a lawyer. The lawyer will determine what actions are necessary to have the money returned. It could be as simple as a letter to your brother. It could be more protracted and require court action and a court order.
Q: It says you are going to be legally prosecuted within a couple of days in the Court House and Internal Revenue Service will put your social security number on hold causing severe damage to your credit history or credit report and your income paychecks will be put on hold any child support or disability or unemployment or retirement benefits will be either place on hold or will be stopped until you will pay the outstanding amount of 783.67 dollars to us
A: It is nothing but junk mail from a con artist hoping you will give them a credit card number.