THE HANDYMAN SCAM
- BSO Case Number: DR02-07-01801
- PIO Number: 02-7-16
- Date: July 12, 2002
- Place of Occurrence: 155 Ventnor J (Century Village), Deerfield Beach
- Elizabeth Wellborn, 83, female, 155 Ventnor J, Deerfield Beach
- Jacob Natanel, 36, 1/5/66, male, 107 Liberty Ct., Deerfield Beach
- David Zrihen, 49, 11/15/52, male, 107 Liberty Ct., Deerfield Beach
- Karen Burke, 36, 9/21/65, female, 5633 Coral Lake Dr., Margate
Description of Incident:
The Broward Sheriff's Office has charged a handyman and his two cohorts with helping themselves to the checking account of an elderly woman who hired them to do some home repairs at her Century Village condo.
The suspect, Jacob Natanel, 36, operates the “Jacob’s Ladder” handyman service out of his truck and for several weeks had done odd jobs for Elizabeth Wellborn, an 83-year-old woman who lives alone in her Century Village apartment. Natanel gained the woman’s trust, despite his exorbitant prices – charging her $400 recently to repair a ceiling fan.
On July 6th, Natanel went to Mrs. Wellborn’s apartment to move some boxes, bringing along two helpers: David Zrihen, 49, and Karen Burke, 36. Burke asked if she could use the master bathroom, and while the men had Mrs. Wellborn distracted, Burke stole the woman’s checks.
The trio went to two different banks, cashing two forged checks for $695 each. At a third bank, they tried to cash a check for $800. The teller became suspicious and called Mrs. Wellborn, who said she had not written the check. Mrs. Wellborn then called BSO.
Natanel, Zrihen and Burke were all arrested early today on three counts each of Grand Theft and Uttering Forged Bills (stolen checks) and one count of Elderly Exploitation. Burke gave a statement, admitting that she stole the checks and shared them with Natanel and Zrihen so they could get money to buy crack cocaine.
Natanel and his company, Jacob’s Ladder, are well known in the Deerfield Century Village complex. BSO detectives believe there could be more victims. Anyone who thinks they might have been victimized should call Det. Dave Ellwood at 954-480-4285.
- THIS REPORT BY: Det. D. Ellwood, Sgt. M. Wiener, Dist. 10 Jim Leljedal / PIO 7/12/02 12 pm