Two Los Angeles area men are sitting in jail with bail set higher than a million dollars each after they allegedly scammed dozens of elderly victims over a two year period to the tune of nearly $500,000.
"What these men are suspected of doing is nothing short of shameful," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "It certainly demonstrates the need for our CSLEA members who are specialists and investigators in the California Department of Consumer Affairs."
Eldad Syton, 33, and Yair Zilberman, 32, are charged with numerous counts including theft from an elder, burglary, grand theft and identity theft.
Syton allegedly posed as a pest exterminator. He's accused of targeting sick and/or elderly residents, entering into low cost, "set-fee" contracts to exterminate their homes, then claiming to find bigger problems, even producing fraudulent photos of things like termite damage that would be costly to correct. His victims then paid him large amounts of money for work that was not needed and was never performed.
Similarly, Zilberman advertised for air-duct cleaning services, would purportedly convince elderly victims of other home-related issues like mold and charge them thousands of dollars for work that was never needed or done.
"These crimes happen during times of great vulnerability, when the consumer is being attacked by pests and thinking their home, probably the most valuable investment they ever made, is being damaged or invaded by pests they cannot control and they turn to a professional for help," said Tom Ineichenm president of the California Association or Regulatory Inspectors and Investigators (CARII), an affiliate of CSLEA. "The specialists with the Structural Pest Control Board are constantly working on these types of cases to ensure a safe and secure environment within this industry in California."
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Zilberman also opened a line of credit without permission on behalf of one victim and forged several of the victim’s checks.
If convicted as charged Syton and Zilberman each face 36 years in prison.
The case is being investigated by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Whittier Police Department and the Santa Monica Police Department.
The pair's next court date is scheduled for July 24, 2014. Neither suspect had a license from the state, Syton worked as an unlicensed pest exterminator, Zilberman worked as an unlicensed air-quality contractor.