State v. Mr. M (DMC No. 15188) – Felony Fraudulent Schemes ($72,500), Felony Vulnerable Adult Abuse and Felony Theft – Not Charged – Adult Protective Services Investigated (Case No. 31XXXX).
Mr. M had a website building and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company who would reach out to various website owners in order to sell them their services. The purpose was to improve their websites’ rankings and increase the actual organic traffic to the websites. Mr. M made contact with Bruce (a former lawyer) who was 79-years old. Bruce had a law website, but had a dream of building a directory website that was similar to “Angie’s List” for businesses. He was ultimately quoted a flat fee of $15,000 and he signed a contract.
Throughout the building of the site, he was repeatedly asked for more money and ultimately paid $72,500. The purpose of the site was changed from a directory to a site that would help people improve their credit scores. That particular site actually ended up generating approximately $30,000 in revenue to Bruce.
As Bruce was now in his eighties, his daughters sought to get a conservatorship and claim that he was suffering from dementia. They made a claim with Adult Protective Services that Mr. M had Taken Advantage of a Vulnerable adult in the amount of $72,500.
We became involved with the case and we contacted the Investigator for Adult Protective Services. We were able to show all the work performed on multiple sites, along with the change in direction of the site’s purpose, would justify the full $72,500. During this time, Bruce’s daughter sought to get a civil lawyer involved to potentially file a lawsuit. We also dealt with the civil lawyer and no civil complaint was ever filed. In addition, Adult Protective Services declined to seek any prosecution and they relayed the “turn down” of prosecution by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to us. Mr. M was originally facing very serious felony charges which could have placed him in prison. Now, he has no criminal record whatsoever.