The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

January 17, 2009

Police: Woman lost more than $16,000 in scam

By Jeff Lehr

Police believe a 76-year-old Joplin woman was cheated in December of more than $16,000 by phony home-repairs scam artist Marty W. Rickey and an accomplice.

Rickey, 33, and Jeramie Furnas, 19, are believed to have stopped at the woman’s home in the 1600 block of South Kansas Avenue on or about Dec. 10 and told her they would fix holes in the siding of her house and put a sealant on her roof.

A probable-cause affidavit filed this week in Jasper County Circuit Court states that the suspects asked for payment in advance and convinced the woman to write Rickey checks for $6,628 and $4,800 and to make out a check to Furnas for $3,900.

Rickey returned about a week later, the affidavit states, and told the victim he had encountered problems cashing her checks and that he needed her to write him another for $1,100. Police say that in actuality Rickey and Furnas cashed all four checks at First State Bank locations, bilking the woman for a total of $16,428.

A Joplin police detective inspected the house and found holes in the siding “filled with what appeared to be silicone.” A legitimate roof repairman inspected the roof for police and reported that he could find no evidence of any repair work.

Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson consequently filed charges of financial exploitation of an elderly person against Rickey and Furnas in the case on Wednesday. But authorities say the woman’s money may never be recovered.

Rickey has been in custody at the Newton County Jail since his arrest Jan. 9 in two cases involving elderly victims in that county. Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland told the Globe this week that a camper at the location on Fountain Road where Rickey and a second alleged accomplice, Donnie C. Lowery, 26, were arrested was searched, but no cash was recovered.

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