KOKOMO — A Kokomo Air Force veteran believed he was helping a college student with his loans, but instead he was scammed out of $134,665, according to a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Attorney General’s office.
Jim Carter was a disabled veteran living in Kokomo when he was approached by a former co-worker at the City of Kokomo Planning Commission, Patsy Liali, according to the suit.
Patsy Liali told Carter that her son, Mario Liali, was attending college at Ivy Tech and needed help with his student loans.
Between early 2013 until September 2015, the Lialis asked Carter for money ranging in amounts from $100 to $1,000.
The mother and son showed Carter dozens of emails claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Education and other student loan servicers such as Bancorp.
However, the emails were fake and Mario Liali had not attended Ivy Tech since 2012, records show.
The Lialis schemed Carter out of $134,665, according to the lawsuit.
"It's a large amount of money from one specific person,” Betsy DeNardi, director of consumer protection with the Indiana Attorney General, said. “We often have cases where a person has lost a few hundred dollars, but this is the most recent instance where one person has lost a significant amount of money."
Carter’s son Adam said the scheme broke his father financially and caused him a significant amount of stress.
Jim Carter died on Sept. 30, 2015 at the age of 68.
"I think my father would be alive today if this hadn't happened,” Adam Carter said. “His house was in foreclosure, his most prized possessions were in the pawn shop. I think it just destroyed him."
The Attorney General’s office said the Lialis violated the Senior Consumer Protection Act and spent Carter’s money on themselves.
They’re asking a judge to stop the Lialis from obtaining any assets or property from anyone age 60 years of age or older.
They also seek restitution for Carter’s estate totaling $403,995, which represents three times the actual damages Carter incurred.
The Indiana Attorney General’s office says you should be careful who you loan money to, and you shouldn’t expect it back.
“Anybody can be defrauded out of money by someone they know,” DeNardi said. “People in Indiana and the Midwest are more likely to trust people that you know. This can happen to someone who is 32 years old and this can happen to someone who is 82 years old.”
Adam Carter misses his father very much, and hopes his story will inspire others to be careful who you trust.
“You just have to be vigilant,” Carter said. “I think this was something my father wanted to hide, and he was a little embarrassed this was happening.”
The Lialis have not been criminally charged in this case, however, the Howard County prosecutor is aware of the Attorney General’s office lawsuit.
The Lialis have not responded to requests for comment on the state’s complaint.