KOKOMO — The Indiana Attorney General’s office won a half million-dollar judgment against a Kokomo mother and son accused of scamming an elderly Air Force veteran out of money.
A Howard County judge issued a $548,660 judgment against Patsy Liali and her son Mario Liali.
The judge also barred the Lialis from requesting or accepting any assets, property or money in excess of $100 from anyone 60-years of age or older.
The Lialis are also banned from making any misrepresentations to anyone 60-years of age or older in an attempt to get assets or property.
“This case is an example of a sad story that only came to light because a consumer took the time to make a complaint to our office, and we are gratified to obtain a judgment following our investigative efforts,” read a statement from the Indiana Attorney General. “We take very seriously our responsibility to defend Hoosiers from those who would scam them out of their hard-earned money. It’s always particularly troubling to see fraud perpetrated against vulnerable residents such as the elderly.”
As RTV6 reported in April, Kokomo Air Force veteran Jim Carter 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.
The half million judgment includes civil penalties and consumer restitution for Jim Carter’s estate, records show.
RTV6 reached out to Carter’s son Adam about the default judgment, and Adam said the Lialis don’t have any money to garnish.
“At least they are banned from asking seniors for money going forward,” said Adam Carter. “Hopefully it will help someone else.”
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.
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 services such as Bancorp.
However, the emails were fake and Mario Liali had not attended Ivy Tech since 2012, records show.
"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. “When violations occur, we will seek appropriate penalties and restitution,” read a statement from the Indiana Attorney General.
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.