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TAMARAC (CBSMiami) — An 87-year-old victim is speaking out after the arrest of a man who BSO says a history of unlicensed contracting and targetting elderly people.
CBS4 was there exclusively as BSO deputies walked the suspect, 46-year-old Naraj “Raj” Sehti to a waiting patrol car after he was charged with unlicensed contracting and grand theft involving a person who is 65 years or older. Because of that age the charge can lead to more severe penalties after a conviction.
Sehti did not respond to questions from CBS4’s Peter D’Oench as he walked away with his head down.
The victim, 87-year-old Margaret Dorman, said “I feel sad because he seemed like a nice guy and I trusted him. A friend recommended him. I saw his work at a neighbor’s house and it was impressive. He even showed me special windows with tints.”
Dorman had ordered hurricane impact windows.
Dorman told D’Oench that she gave Sehti $18,500 and her red, 1987 BMW that was worth $2500 but no materials were delivered and no work was done.
BSO said Sehti had been arrested 18 times in Florida and twice in Virginia since 2000 on charges including contracting without a license, failing to obtain workers compensation insurance, issuing bad checks, grand theft and fraud and was actually on probation from a 2015 conviction. BSO said he had been convicted of charges four times.
Dorman said “My daughter and I needed help to put up the windows. The lesson here is don’t trust anybody. I am always thinking now about getting ripped off. I am sad and I am mad because he’s a smart guy. But your sins will find you out. Your sins will find you out. I am glad to see this end because I am a nervous wreck.”
CBS4 also obtained surveillance tape showing Dorman speaking with Sehti speaking with her at her home at a kitchen table.
BSO launched an investigation and set up surveillance cameras after Dorman discovered that no order had been placed for the hurricane impact windows and that Sehti had been fired from his job in July.
“I always thought something was kind of funny,” said Dorman, “because he kept telling me that I should not discuss this with anyone.”
Sgt. Daniel Fitzpatrick, who heads the Organized Crime unit inside the Broward Sheriffs Office, said, “These are our most vulnerable citizens and we are very concerned. This looks like his M.O., targetting elderly people.”
Fitzpatrick had a warning.
“Definitely you don’t want to pay up front but at most pay 50% and then don’t pay the rest until all the materials have been delivered and the work is done,” he said.
He also said, “Always do your work on your contractor. Get recommendations from past customers and do work on the internet.”
Sehti is being held on $110,000 bond and is expected to face a judge in bond court in the morning.
BSO says anyone who thinks that he or she has been victimized by unlicensed contractors should call Broward Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).