RENTON, Wash. – For 82-year-old Lila Mullen it seems like a daily occurrence that someone calls and offers to fix her roof, trim her trees, repair her cable or any other number of household chores.
So when a man called last fall, telling her it was time to get her furnace cleaned, Mullen agreed – even though it had only been a few months since a technician had been out.
Shriki, who introduced himself as “Eli,” told Mullen that her furnace was filthy and he had a lot of work to do. Several hours later he was standing over her checkbook, writing himself a check – Mullen said she didn’t think much of it since her hands were in pain that day and it was tough for her to write.
“He really wasn’t pushy, but he was just really nice,” Mullen said.
Mullen later realized Shriki wrote his company, Green Quality Air, a check for $2,250. She said the furnace, which was purchased in 2011, cost less than that.
“Well I was, I just couldn’t believe, how much it was,” Mullen said. “You feel stupid for letting him get by with all of that.”
Shriki has been charged with four counts of second-degree theft and one count of attempted second-degree theft. He was arraigned in King County Superior Court Thursday and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Bellevue police and King County prosecutors say Shriki targeted elderly women across the region in recent months, bilking them out of thousands of dollars. The victim ranged in age from 81 to 86.
Mullen said Shriki returned to her house the same week she paid him the more than $2,000, saying she needed a “UV light filter” and he was there to install it. After a few more hours, he charged her an additional $1,850.
“She did not realize that Eli took a check and completed it for $1,850,” according to charges.
Mullen said she was thankful she didn’t have enough money in her account to cover that amount.
Bellevue police Detective Ray Lofink, in his report said, the same filter sells at retail for under $300.
“A lot of these victims are trustworthy, they just felt this was part of their normal annual routine maintenance and would let them in,” Lofink told KOMO on Thursday.
Patricia Marberg, Mullen’s daughter and live-in caregiver, said she was out of town the week that Shriki came by their home. She said she knew he was coming by on Sept. 16 because he had called to schedule the repair work with them, but Marberg said she didn’t think anything of it.
Marberg said other repairmen have been by the Renton home, but not until now has someone taken advantage of her mother.
“I was furious,” Marberg recalled. “These guys are pros that’s what they do.”
Marberg called Green Quality Air and a woman answered. Marberg said she demanded her mother’s money back and the woman said she would get in touch with Shriki – he returned the call within minutes.
Marberg describes a screaming match between the two of them, which ended after Marberg told Shriki she was going to contact police about what happened and tip them to his bad online reviews. When she told him she was taking the case to court she said he offered to repay her mother in installments.
“I was like you took advantage of an 82-year-old lady and she’s limited income,” Marberg recalled.
Marberg said her mother received a check for $370 then there was nothing from Shriki until they had talked to Bellevue police. She said they then received a check for $700.
It’s very frustrating, especially for the elder people, the seniors and stuff because they are nice,” Marberg said.