On Thursday, Judge Ronald D. White sentenced Joshua S. Miller, 38, of Salem, to 30 years in prison for two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann.
Miller had pleaded guilty back in 2014 to two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, where he had scammed two elderly Rolla citizens out of almost $200,000. According to Neckermann, Miller used a common scam where a person befriends someone, oftentimes a person who is elderly or disabled, and then offers to perform maintenance work on their homes. Miller told both victims that they needed work on the roofs, insulation in their attics, and other fixes. He told the victims if they didn’t pay what he asked, their homes would be at risk.
As is often the situation on these cases, the victims were elderly and unable to verify that the repairs were necessary. One of Miller’s victims wrote checks to Miller totaling $183,500 over a four-year period for repairs on a home that was worth less than $150,000.
In June, 2014, Miller was given probation by the original judge to offer him an opportunity to pay back the victims. While on probation, Miller did not pay back any of the money and committed a new offense in Texas County, where he stole jewelry from the home of an elderly woman. Judge White found that the defendant had violated probation and ordered Miller to serve his 30 year sentence.
Prosecutor Brendon Fox issued a warning for people to look out for their elderly relatives and friends.
“These scams are more common than you think, and they are rarely reported because the victims are often either unaware they’ve been scammed or are too embarrassed to report it. Please look out for your friends, family, and neighbors, and if you think they are being taken advantage of by someone, report it,” Fox said.
If you believe someone is the victim of financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled, you can contact the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-0210.