Georgetown – Attorney General Beau Biden’s General’s Consumer Protection Unit has secured the arrest of 42 year-old Eric Lepkowski on multiple charges in a scheme to defraud a 68 year-old Sussex County homeowner. Lepkowski turned himself in on Friday, May 30 at DSP Troop #4 and was booked on one count of Home Improvement Fraud, one count of Theft of a Senior, three counts of Unlawful Use of a Credit Card, and three counts of Identity Theft. He was arraigned via videophone by JP Court #2, and was released after posting $10,000 secured bond.
Earlier this year Biden’s Consumer Protection Unit initiated an investigation of Lepkowski, of Windy Acres Lane in Millsboro, after receiving a complaint that that he had defrauded a Rehoboth Beach homeowner in a home improvement scheme between February and August of 2013. The investigation revealed that Lepkowski, who markets himself as a contractor doing business as First State Home Services, convinced the victim to pay him $1,600 up-front for labor and materials costs, secured permission to charge the victim’s credit card $5,000 to cover all future labor costs, and convinced the victim to place $600 in an account at Lowes in Lepkowski’s name to purchase materials for projects for the home renovation project. Lepkowski secured verbal permission to use the victim’s credit card number for additional material purchases at Home Depot and Lowes, and continued to demand additional payment for labor. In total, the victim ultimately paid Lepkowski more than $10,000.
After repeated attempts by the victim to obtain copies of store receipts for materials purchases from Lepkowski were unsuccessful, the victim obtained them personally from the stores. A review of the receipts revealed more than $1,500 in unauthorized purchases, including materials not needed or used on the condo project, personal items, and tools purchased that were unknown to the victim which were not needed for this project. In addition, the investigation revealed several unauthorized charges from the victim’s credit card to Lepkowski’s Square One credit card charging account before Lepkowski ultimately ceased working on the still-uncompleted project.
Subsequent review of Lepkowski’s work revealed that hardware and other construction materials purchased specifically for the project had not been installed and that his work had not been completed to code. Moreover, it was determined that Lepkowski is not licensed in the City of Rehoboth and was not licensed by the State to perform electrical and plumbing, which were both part of the scope of work for this project.
Biden’s office urges other consumers who may have been victimized or have information to share with authorities to contact Special Investigator Dan Daly in the Consumer Protection Unit at (302) 752-3215. Additional alleged victims have been identified by investigators and the investigation is ongoing.
A booking image of Lepkowski is attached.
Eric Lepkowski was previously convicted of Home Improvement Fraud in 2009.
The Attorney General’s Office cautions the public to be alert for home improvement scams, and to help avoid them by making certain that contractors are bonded and maintain any required licenses for mechanical work, follow up on references, inquire with friends and neighbors about a contractor’s reputation, and never pay for work up front. If consumer suspect they are victim of home improvement fraud contact the Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-220-5424.
# # #Related Topics: consumer protection • Consumer Protection Unit • Protecting Seniors
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