A Gilroy man suspected of scamming people he promised to do yard work for was arrested Saturday, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. District attorney’s office investigators said they believe Michael D. Oliveira, 43, scammed at least 20 homeowners in Gilroy and Morgan Hill into paying him upfront to complete yard jobs he never completed.
“It goes beyond badly trimmed trees. He stole from and betrayed the trust of people who took him at his word,” Deputy District Attorney Janet Berry said. The district attorney’s office said that it was notified of complaints last spring by victims who described Oliveira as a charming person who offered to do cheap yard work. In one case, Oliveira convinced an 87-year-old Gilroy woman to pay him $300 in advance to cut down unwanted trees in her yard.
The woman reluctantly paid him the money in advance because Oliveira suggested he needed the money to repair his truck. Oliveira never showed up to finish the job, according to the district attorney’s office. In another case, a Gilroy couple in their 80s paid Oliveira $450 to trim trees in their yard. After he “butchered” two trees and left debris in the yard, Oliveira went for lunch and never returned, the district attorney’s office said.
Oliveira was released from police custody after posting $25,000 bail and will next appear in court on Sept. 14, when he will be arraigned for 12 counts of petty theft and eight counts of elder fraud. The district attorney’s office advised people not to hire strangers who show up at their doors offering services of any kind and asked any elderly residents who feel as though they may have been scammed to call 1-877-DA-ELDER.
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