There are all sorts of ways you can lose your hard-earned dollars. Here's a sampling of how Utahns have been ripped off recently:
- Found money: Last fall, a woman knocked on an elderly Provo woman's door. She said she'd found a large sum of money in a nearby park and showed the woman an envelope stuffed with cash.The well-dressed woman said she worked at a bank and asked to use the telephone to call her boss for advice on what to do with the money. After making the telephone call, the woman told the victim that she was going to deposit the money in the bank.
The woman told the victim she'd split the money with her if no one claimed it. She also said the victim would need to put up $2,500 to open the account and to show good faith.
The Provo woman agreed. The two women drove to the victim's bank, where she withdrew $2,500. That money was added to the cash in the envelope.
They then drove to the bank where the woman supposedly worked.
"I have to go in a back door in the bank because I'm an employee," the woman said.
She handed the victim an envelope and said she'd meet her inside.
But the woman never showed up. When the victim opened the envelope, she found it was stuffed with cut-up newspapers.
The woman apparently headed for Salt Lake City, where she tried to use the same scheme to take money from another Utahn.
- House of cards: As many as 50 Utahns saw their dreams of a log cabin home vanish when two Provo businessmen took down payments for homes and then failed to build them.
Provo police are in the process of extraditing Jeffrey M. Roberts, owner of Log Homes and Cabins of Provo, from Australia. Police say Roberts and his business partner, Kent Peterson, took nearly $400,000 from victims as down payments on homes that were never built.
Roberts and Peterson face a variety of racketeering, communication fraud and theft by deception charges.
- The crypt con: Keith E. Garner convinced investors David Allredge and Tai Ong to put $2 million into a mausoleum development. He showed them a model of a crypt built of concrete and marble.
Garner tried to save money on the project by using wood instead of concrete. Wooden crypts don't conform to mausoleum building codes, and Salt Lake City officials eventually revoked Garner's building permit.
Garner also falsely told the investors an LDS Church official was a partner in the development and that members of the Osmond family planned to be entombed in the mausoleum.
A jury awarded the investors $5.2 million. Garner is appealing the case.
- Burning up money: About 110 Utahns were left out in the cold when a firewood salesman took their money but failed to deliver the promised firewood.
William H. Thompson, West Jordan, former owner of Thompson Pinion Pine, took prepaid orders for as many as 500 cords of wood, but only delivered 20 cords. Thompson eventually pleaded guilty to racketeering and failure to pay sales tax. He was ordered to make restitution to his customers.
He is serving a one-to-15 year sentence at the Utah State Prison.
- A trip to nowhere: Two Utah couples paid Kimo's Escorted Tours $2,590 in April 1991 for a summer trip to Hawaii.
They never got the trip. And they're out the money.
The two couples are among 80 customers who were bilked of more than $175,000 by Donald R. Thorup, Provo, former owner of Kimo's Escorted Tours. Thorup is serving a one-to-15 year sentence in the Utah State Prison for four counts of computer fraud, one count of theft, one count of communications fraud and one count of racketeering.
Thorup took money from customers for vacation packages but never delivered the trips. In some cases, Thorup double-billed customer's credit cards to generate money for trips already in progress.