Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here


Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Con Artist Steals Oregon Woman’s Property

Janet wants to donate her land to charity but soon learns the foundation for disabled veterans is a scam

spinner image Episode 112 website graphic

Subscribe:   Apple Podcasts | Amazon Music | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

spinner image Quote graphic
Full Transcript

[00:00:01] Bob: This week on The Perfect Scam.  

[00:00:03] Janet Grosz: Janet Grosz: I try to help this guy, get him clothes, get him a cell phone, be like a family to him... I feel like I was totally betrayed. 

[00:00:11] Dan McKinney: It’s pretty rare that you could get to be in your 30s and have no digital history. He had none. We found absolutely nothing about him.   


[00:00:24] Bob: Welcome back to The Perfect Scam. I'm your host, Bob Sullivan. Kindness, empathy, generosity, gratitude, these are all wonderful human impulses to be cherished and honored. The world wouldn't go ‘round without them. But sometimes they can be used against us. That's what happened to Janet Grosz, a recent widow living on a farm in rural Oregon, she was traveling the world on mission trips using her skills as a retired healthcare worker when she was approached by a man named Hope about an ambitious project to build tiny homes for homeless veterans. She jumped at the chance to help. But instead of hope, Janet found herself living through months of despair. At one point there was a restraining order which kept her from visiting part of her own property. Here's our story. Let's meet Janet.  

[00:01:24] Bob: That’s a beautiful part of Oregon that you're in.  

[00:01:26] Janet Grosz: Well thank you, thank you. The Oregon coast is not very far, and we are close to the Umpqua River, and it goes all the way to Winchester Bay. It's a beautiful place to go fishing, crabbing, and apparently the Umpqua River is famous all over the world. People come to fish here.  

[00:01:43] Bob: How long have you been there?  

[00:01:44] Janet Grosz: About 19 years.  

[00:01:46] Bob: Where did you move from?  

[00:01:47] Janet Grosz: Southern Cal. 

[00:01:48] Bob: Ah, you're not at sunny, warm beaches anymore though.  

[00:01:50] Janet Grosz: No, unfortunately. This beautiful, kind of like overcast here in the Northwest is beautiful too. It's rather rainy, but we need the rain. We can't complain.  

[00:02:01] Bob: Janet and her husband grew avocados back in California. Couldn't do that in Oregon. But they did grow apples and pears and even nectarines when they moved. Rural Oregon was a great place to settle down after her nearly four decades of working in healthcare.  

[00:02:17] Janet Grosz: My husband believed in we should grow our own vegetables, grow our own fruit. I mean if you need to go fishing, we could just go fish and maybe have chickens and cows, and you know, elks and deer, you know, be around here, so you could go hunt. Basically, that's self-sufficient, to become really self-sufficient and not depend upon the supermarket, nor you know, the outside world.  

[00:02:41] Bob: A couple of years ago, Janet's life changes abruptly when her husband dies. She dives deep into charity work to deal with the grief, even signing up for overseas mission trips. And right then, in mid-2018, hope enters her life. John Hope. 

[00:02:59] Janet Grosz: So a friend of a friend introduced me to Mr. John Hope stating that he was doing helping the homeless. She said, "You should meet him, and he should come down here and figure out how you're going to help the vets on the homeless situation in Oregon. I said, hey, if I could help, why not? You know, I was more than willing to do that. You know, because I travel all over the world helping, volunteering to help go out to communities, different places in the world. So basically, I said, sure, why not?  

[00:03:27] Bob: John Hope is in Washington State at the time, so the first time they meet, they talk on the telephone.  

[00:03:33] Bob: What what did you think when you heard his voice the first time?  

[00:03:35] Janet Grosz: He sounded very convincing, very forth worth, you know, very, you know, personable.  

[00:03:41] Bob: And was it a, a deep voice? Did he sound confident?  

[00:03:44] Janet Grosz: Deep voice, confidence, calm. Like he was a caring person.  

[00:03:49] Bob: Hope tells Janet all about his ambitious plans to help homeless veterans. He has a nonprofit called Impossible Roads. He's soliciting donations of empty truck trailers and tools and labor, turning the trailers into tiny homes, but he needs a place to put them. Janet's big, empty property seems like just the place. So he agrees to fly down to Oregon and they meet in person.  

[00:04:14] Janet Grosz: Well, basically he took an airplane to come down and I picked him up from the airport. 

[00:04:18] Bob: Okay, so you're driving in a car together, talking, right, and he's talking more about the project. Did, do you remember anything about the, the car ride?  

[00:04:26] Janet Grosz: Well, basically say he was dying, he had cancer. And, you know, he wanted to do projects before he leave this planet and leave it better for the next person. You know, and you feel sorry for the person. And you feel like why not help out if you can. You know that's what I grew up helping everybody else, you know, and be a neighborly, help whoever needs, you know if they're homeless, let's offer you a home, or try to find somewhere you could help them out.  

[00:04:54] Bob: So, by the time he gets to the property, you, you probably have, have you made up your mind that you're going to work with him?  

[00:05:01] Janet Grosz: Yeah, in fact he was, you know, confident. Yeah, you know, he sounded really good, and he was like a, sounded like trustworthy person.  

[00:05:09] Bob: Hope flies back to Washington State, says he has some projects to finish up there. He takes a few more trips back and forth to Oregon, but within a year, he moves to Oregon fulltime to work on the project. Janet dives in with both feet too, beginning with, well, Hope needs a place to stay, so of course, she welcomes him into her home, and she starts taking care of him.  

[00:05:33] Janet Grosz: Oh, he liked it here. He would say, you know, he loved it, so of course, I offer him room and board as long he was here, you know, I drive him everywhere because he say he couldn't drive because he had a stroke.  

[00:05:45] Bob: John Hope keeps pushing Janet on the tiny homes idea. Most of all, he says he really need property deeded to Impossible Roads so he can bring down the completed tiny homes from Washington State. He gets the papers prepared with the help of a local title company, and when Janet returns home from a long trip, he surprises her with them.  

[00:06:06] Janet Grosz: Well he say he already had all this shipping container converting into housing, and that he needed to bring it down here, and he needed at least 3 acres to get started on it.  

[00:06:15] Bob: But it sounds like as soon as you sign this piece of paper, you're going to be able to help homeless people right away, right?  

[00:06:21] Janet Grosz: Right.  

[00:06:21] Bob: Yeah, okay, so how did that transaction occur? 

[00:06:24] Janet Grosz: Well, I just uh came from a trip and I was kind of jetlagged and he said, "I have everything done. Don't contact anybody. Just let's go to the title company and you could sign this paperwork." You know, and I didn't read it completely. I was, you know, really completely trusting, you know because he sounded so real, and he was trustworthy. 

[00:06:43] Bob: Months pass, and while they are together a lot, Janet doesn't really know a lot about John Hope. He tells her that medical problems, the stroke, have left him with a confused memory, so she doesn't push. And, when Hope moves into an outbuilding on her land and starts to make permanent modifications to it, like plans for a septic system, she figures it's all part of the plan. Meanwhile, months go by, and no tiny homes arrive.  

[00:07:15] Bob: So at some point did you say, you know, what's going on with the, the veterans homes?  

[00:07:19] Janet Grosz: I didn't ask him because I trusted him, you know, he say he's bringing it down, but because he had this trouble with the truckers, getting people arranged, um, you know, he wanted to do this, you know, he was always coming up with some kind of an excuse.  

[00:07:33] Bob: Then, one day, things take a dark turn between Janet and John Hope.  

[00:07:38] Janet Grosz: I was driving him around a lot, you know, and when we went to the beach to get more groceries, coming back, and he said, "You know, you gave me 30 acres." I said, "What?" You know, he was bragging to everybody that he got 30 acres. And I said, then I asked him personally when we were driving. And he said, yeah, he took 30 acres and recorded it.  

[00:07:58] Bob: And he says to you, I own most of your property. And, and what, what did you say to him?  

[00:08:03] Janet Grosz: I was really, I really got upset. And I said, "That was not what we agreed upon," you know. And next day I spoke to my real estate friend, and she said, "You need to get an attorney and get this guy out of your property, and get your property back." 

[00:08:18] Bob: "It's true," her friend says. The documents she signed gave John Hope and the Impossible Roads Foundation control over not 3 acres, but 30 acres of the property. So she starts trying to figure out what kind of paperwork she can file to get her land back. But John Hope files paperwork first. A sheriff comes onto Janet's property and puts her on notice.  

[00:08:43] Janet Grosz: The sheriff served me and says like, "You know, you have to appear in court, you know." I'm not allowed to go on his side of the property. I said, "You've got to be kidding me."  

[00:08:54] Bob: Wow.  

[00:08:54] Janet Grosz: "Otherwise you'll get arrested."  

[00:08:56] Bob: Wow. You're standing on, in front of your own home and there's a sheriff telling you you can't walk across your property.  

[00:09:01] Janet Grosz: Yeah.  

[00:09:02] Bob: Since she can't legally walk across her own land anymore, instead she takes a trip to Dan McKinney's office. Dan is a real estate lawyer in Douglas County where Janet lives, and he's got lots of experience in elder abuse law.  

[00:09:17] Dan McKinney: Right, so the first step was, is she comes in and lays this, these facts out, and I see enough red flags that I'm comfortable representing her trying to set aside the transaction. I'd looked at the website. I did some research on this Impossible Roads Foundation, and it all looked legitimate. And so I'm assuming we've got a legitimate charity on the other side, and this guy just talked my client into doing something that can't ever happen. And so I was pretty comfortable at that point knowing that we would be able to file a lawsuit to set aside the transaction because it was an ill-conceived charitable donation.  

[00:09:48] Bob: But as Dan looks into the transaction more, red flags keep going off.  

[00:09:53] Dan McKinney: When she told me the story that he was going to build these mini houses for veterans on this property, another light bulb went off for me which was, I know the Douglas County ordinances and while she was here, I ran to my computer and double-checked the zoning on the property, and I knew it couldn't ever happen there. It was not land that was ever zoned for veterans’ homes. 

[00:10:12] Bob: you can't just plop little homes on a property.  

[00:10:15] Dan McKinney: No, not, not on, not on farmland in, in uh, Oregon anywhere. Land that's zoned farm use, timber use, or, or such, is, is restricted and, and cities and counties aren't allowed to split those lots up or allow uses other than farm purpose. And so the land he talked her out of for this veterans' home, could never be used for veterans homes.  

[00:10:38] Bob: But John Hope was not giving up without a fight. He gets his own lawyer and first they file to get a legal waiver to allow location of the tiny homes on the property.  

[00:10:48] Bob: His lawyer and I start communicating and, and it's uh, they're trying to figure out how to fix this, you know, and so the first thing he does is he goes, and he files some application with the county to try to re-zone the property and, and get approval for to make the lot split legal. And so on behalf of Janet, I filed an opposition to that at the County and said, "No, this was, you're never going to allow veterans homes on this property. And don't allow this to subdivide this property in this fashion." And the county agreed. And they put his application on hold. Then came conflicts between my client and, and this fellow. He was hanging out in Janet's garage, and making a nuisance for himself and, and she wanted him out of there, but he wouldn't leave.  

[00:11:29] Bob: Not only will John Hope not leave, he convinces a court to impose a restraining order on Janet. She is now no longer able to go near her outbuilding.  

[00:11:40] Dan McKinney: Yeah, so the process in Oregon is, I practiced in California before I moved up here, and it was that way there too; an, an elderly person or a disabled person walks into court, tells the judge their story, and a judge issues a temporary restraining order, as long as the story matches the statutory grounds for a straining order. And then they serve the order on the other side, and if they want a hearing, they can ask for a hearing. And that's what we did. We asked for a hearing. 

[00:12:04] Bob: A hearing to get a restraining order lifted against Janet so she can move freely around what should be her property. While preparing for the hearing, Dan has a breakthrough.  

[00:12:17] Dan McKinney: And so, I do a few minutes of research to try to get some more information on, on this John Hope, and I find nothing. And it's pretty rare that you could get to be in your 30s and have no digital history. (laugh) In other words, you've had a cell phone, you've owned property, you rented property, you've had a power bill in your name. And, and our online companies that we have access to, we pay for these information, we can track people. And so, it's pretty rare that somebody, even in their early 20s, doesn't have some sort of digital history. He had none. There was absolutely zero about him, and from the restraining order I knew his name and I knew his date of birth. And plugging those into our search criteria, we found absolutely nothing about him.  

[00:13:07] Bob: So that leads Dan to more deeply look into the foundation that John Hope supposedly runs. And things get really strange.  

[00:13:16] Dan McKinney: And so, my secretary really got excited about this, and so she starts digging. So she starts going into his websites and the, the people that claims he benefitted in the past. She starts calling them. So, she talks to, I think it was Home Depot he claimed to supply, supply materials and he built this homes in Washington. And so she went to Home Depot and asked about that, and they said, "Nah, it didn't happen. We just supplied materials. We didn't build any homes." And, and then one of the websites has a picture of a container unit in Washington somewhere, and she called up there, and, and talked to somebody and found out that yeah, he talked to a whole bunch of people into making a donation in the name of the Impossible Roads Foundation, but everything's still in this container unit.  

[00:13:54] Bob: So Janet's lawyer tucks away this information for a while. But on the day of the hearing, after some back and forth, Dan makes a simple request of the judge.  

[00:14:04] Dan McKinney: I said, "Judge, could he be ordered to bring some ID with him to the afternoon session?" And the judge said, "Yes, bring some identification with you when you come back." So he does. He comes back at 2 o'clock. No ID, and he can't talk in a loud enough voice for anybody for hear. And the hearing just went nowhere, and the judge denied the restraining order. (laugh) 

[00:14:22] Bob: John Hope won't provide any ID. And that makes for an easy ruling for the judge. So Janet at least is no longer under threat of arrest if she moves around her property. But who is John Hope? Dan doesn't have the answer, but he has enough questions that he decides to take a bold step. He goes to the police with his research.  

[00:14:44] Dan McKinney: So I took the transcript of that proceeding and the information that my secretary had collected, and we gave it to the county detectives. But I don't think they believed her. They just thought she just did, got sucked into this charity and, and now she wants her, her property back because she doesn't like the charity anymore. I think that's their initial impression of her. So then when I took all the research my secretary had done and the transcript of this hearing to the detective, it really peaked his interest.  

[00:15:11] Bob: That's an understatement. An officer from the Douglas County Sheriff's office, Michael Picher, spends the next several months unraveling the mystery of John Hope. His exhaustive research culminates in an affidavit for a probable cause determination. It's 28 pages of interviews and allegations about the man who calls himself John Hope. The affidavit says Impossible Roads is indeed a registered charity in Washington State. There is a website, even blog posts citing a relationship with the major hardware chain dating back to 2015. And there's an address for the foundation in Bellingham, Washington, right up near the Canadian border. Picher finds the owner of the home and contacts her. Immediately she knows why he's calling. He writes, "She told me the following. Hope came to her in about 2013 while she was volunteering at the Hope House, an organization in Bellingham, that assists homeless people. Hope was brought to the Lighthouse Mission near Hope House by police after he was discharged from an area hospital and didn't remember his name or where he was from. She knew the homeless, nameless man needed a name, so she invented one." Picher writes, "They thought together and because John Paul, the Pope, was in the news at the time, they thought John P., and because the name of the charity program she volunteered at was the Hope House, they decided on the last name of Hope." Now going by the name John Hope, the man tells the volunteer that he'd been abused and had a stroke and didn't remember much about his previous life. But the organization does help him move his belongings from a storage unit in Arizona. Eventually Hope gets healthy enough to do odd jobs at the local dockyard, the Port of Bellingham. And ambitious enough to say he wants to create a nonprofit to help others, the Impossible Roads Foundation. The witness says the homeless man is very creative. "Hope is very talented with computers, and he has the ability to make things look like they are really happening. When in reality, they are not." Over time this witness learns the homeless man's prior name, Tyrone Powell. And that is the breakthrough that the sheriff's officer needs. While lawyer Dan McKinney had found John Hope had almost no record at all, Tyrone Powell had a long history which abruptly stopped at around 2013. Tyrone Powell had created the True Story Foundation in Arizona with a charter to help orphan children, and also The Missing Piece Foundation, and another nonprofit simply called Love. All of them were eventually dissolved for inactivity. There are several brushes with the law, both as an alleged victim and an alleged fraudster. Cops say he altered a car VIN to avoid paying a debt, for example. After another unpaid debt he filed a police report saying his identity had been stolen. And before that, well, Tyrone Powell had been a student at Yale University in Connecticut where he played on the men's basketball team during the 1998-'99 season. Sheriff Picher ends up going to Bellingham to interview a set of people who say they knew John Hope. Again and again he hears they helped him with food and shelter, helped him with Impossible Roads, but they never saw a finished tiny home. At about the same time Picher is up in Bellingham, Hope makes one last stand on Janet's property filing a second restraining order. This time, he claims Janet had stolen $9,000 worth of tools and cut off his electricity. But it too is dropped on appeal and Hope moves to the local hotel. Then a few weeks later, on February 26th, police arrive at the hotel to arrest a man who checked in with the name of John Hope. He is charged with a series of crimes; aggravated theft by deception, perjury, fictious ID, ID theft, and when he's booked, the fingerprints confirm, John Hope is really Tyrone Powell. But that is not the end of the story for Janet. She still has to pursue a civil case to get her deed restored. 

[00:19:48] Dan McKinney: So at this point, uh, we could have gone to trial, eventually the case would have gone to trial, but the attorney realizes by the time the detective puts his case together, and, and uh they, they file criminal charges against him, the attorney withdraws, and so now he's representing himself. I bring a motion for summary judgment. Tell the judge, "Judge, here's the facts," that this was a, a scam, but in any case, it was never going to, to work for charitable purposes as they intended. And asked the judge to just grant us a judgment without going to trial.  

[00:20:19] Bob: Three months after the man known as John Hope is arrested, Janet gets word that the motion to dismiss will be granted.  

[00:20:26] Dan McKinney: And the judge signed the judgment, uh, declaring that the property is returned to uh, not, not just returned to Janet Grosz, but deed is cancelled, and an ejectment, the court issued an order that he's not to ever return to the property. And on the claim for elder abuse, the judge um, uh gave us $25,000 in damages, for um taking advantage of an elderly person.  

[00:20:51] Bob: It had been more than two years since Hope came into her life, and now Janet is finally Hope-less. And it's such a relief.  

[00:21:01] Bob: What was it like when the judge gave you your property back?  

[00:21:04] Janet Grosz: Oh, it was jubilee, it was, you know, restore um, back faith in humanity. There is um, justice, there is hope. It, it's just jubilation, you know, really, really feel good, but at the same time I had to wait 10 days because in case he came back and claimed the property. 

[00:21:22] Bob: As for Tyrone Powell and the criminal charges against him, he's still awaiting trial in Oregon. The story of the man who said he wanted to bring hope, offers lots of lessons, lawyer Dan McKinney says. 

[00:21:36] Bob: What should people learn from a story like this? 

[00:21:40] Dan McKinney: Get professional assistance before you do anything of consequence like this. If she had come to see me, it would have cost her a hundred-dollar consultation fee, and I would have immediately seen this thing was a scam for the two reasons I identified. First, it's not a legal lot of record. I would have been able to tell her that. And second, this property is not zoned for veterans’ homes. He'll never be allowed to have veterans’ homes here.  

[00:22:01] Bob: I'm going to guess that would have been a, a really well-spent $100 on her part. 

[00:22:05] Dan McKinney: Yes. It would have been. Now she also had a friend who was a realtor, and her realtor friend had talked to her before about different things, and she could have also had her realtor tell her the same things probably. People who aren't sophisticated in either business transactions or real estate transactions need professional advice, somebody that has a fiduciary duty to give them good advice, whether it's a realtor or an attorney or an accountant or somebody that has a duty to make sure you're getting it right and doing it right. 

[00:22:35] Bob: Laurie Styron operates Charity Watch, an independent organization that helps people avoid scams when they're donating their money. "Real estate scams are unfortunately pretty common," she says, "and criminals often know just who to target." 

[00:22:51] Laurie Styron: Well it's a tale as old as time, isn't it? A wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a universal truth, sadly, but predatory people, they target not other predatory people, but they target high empathy and compassionate people, and they do it by appealing to our higher selves, appealing to that drive that we have to help others, to be our brother's keepers. So that's really something that we all have to be very vigilant about if you are someone who has high empathy and compassion for others. You have to really be on extra guard about people like this, predatory people like this really exploiting those great qualities about yourself that drive you to help other people.  

[00:23:41] Bob: Why are empathetic people targeted?  

[00:23:42] Laurie Styron: Well, there are people who make decisions, you know, very fact-based decisions. You know you have your accountants of the world, right, and then you have the people who follow their intuition, and they really make decisions based on their emotions and their personal connections to other people that they feel, um, and their connection to humanity that they feel. And, you know, it's great when we all have that feeling and that connection to humanity that causes us, that drives us to want to help others. But when it comes time to making hard decisions where you’re having to sign on the dotted line, a legal document, you need to not sort of stamp out those great qualities that you have for compassion and empathy, but you do need to temporarily set those aside so that you can really analyze in a very fact-based way what it is specifically that you're promising, and what you're getting yourself into.  

[00:24:42] Bob: Why are veterans' causes so commonly used this way?  

[00:24:45] Laurie Styron: One reason for that, well, it's, it's a two for one for scammers. Because a scammer can play on your empathy, um, but they can also play on your patriotism. So, this is why we see this a lot with veterans' causes is it's a very evocative type of cause because we think about you know these are people who sacrifice for our country, in some cases they come home from battle with a lot of broken bodies and, and broken souls and, you know, mental health issues in many cases. And so it really can tug at the heart strings and also play on our patriotism. So, veterans' causes in particular, that's an area where people do have to be extra cautious. 

[00:25:29] Bob: It's maddening that kind and empathetic people are targeted, but Laurie says, you don't have to give up on kindness and empathy just because criminals try to exploit these qualities.  

[00:25:40] Laurie Styron: We think about these things in a binary way. So I would never ask someone that has a lot of compassion or empathy to turn off those great qualities about themselves, but you know, these two things, being discerning and skeptical, and being high empathy and compassionate, they are not mutually exclusive. And so, our compassion can be unlimited, but our resources are not. So we need to be discerning because if we want to make a positive impact in the world and accomplish something with our generosity, it really requires both things. It requires that feeling of empathy and compassion, and it also requires us to have a very discerning and skeptical eye.  

[00:26:24] Bob: Our compassion can be unlimited, but our resources are not. I like that a lot.  

[00:26:29] Bob: And even when being generous, Laurie says, don't take any shortcuts.  

[00:26:34] Bob: If someone might say, hey, can we just put some of these uh small, converted truck trailers onto your property and we can house veterans on them, isn't that a lovely idea, and it can maybe be a good idea even. But understanding the legal implications of that, the tax implications, none of us, that's not my skill, that's not your skill, so make sure you hire a professional to go through the annoying steps because those are designed for a reason, right?  

[00:26:56] Laurie Styron: Exactly. Those are designed for a reason, and to make sure that your generosity makes a positive impact in the world, you need to go through the proper steps. If someone approaches you with what sounds like a great idea for a charitable cause or some other way that you can help other people, and you think it sounds great and that it’s a great idea, you just to go through those proper steps so that you can weed out fraudsters and scammers. So if you receive some kind of a contract like this, you just need to seek out the help of an attorney, for example. Or if you get a charity solicitation in the mail, it’s the same thing. You need to not respond to pressure or time pressure, or you know attempts at guilting you into donating right away. You need to take the information down and do your research before you commit to making a donation. And so this is just really good general advice for everything, is that if someone has a great idea, just put it through that vetting process.  

[00:27:59] Bob: Yeah, don't skip any steps. I like that a lot.  


[00:28:03] Bob: Janet's life is slowly returning to normal, but the hurt she feels from having her property taken away from her, that lingers on.  

[00:28:10] Janet Grosz: Being abused, trust is broken, I feel like I was totally uh taken advantage of. You know, when I try to help this guy, feed him three meals a day, get him clothes, get him a cell phone, you know, drive him everywhere, uh be like a family to him, I did so much for this guy and then totally taken advantage of me, you feel totally betrayed, you know. Totally.  

[00:28:34] Bob: Betrayed, that sounds like the word, betrayed. And plus, you were obviously, this was just your generous heart here that he was taking advantage of.  

[00:28:40] Janet Grosz: Yes, on top of it, you have to pay so much money, attorneys to get my property back. That was unreal. For being kindness of my heart, now I have to turn around and pay almost 15 thousand to two attorneys to get my property back. That is unreal. 

[00:29:00] Bob: Janet agreed to talk to us because she just doesn't want anyone else to go through what she's gone through.  

[00:29:06] Janet Grosz: Well, I'm just trusting God from learning from this experience. I'm just doing this to help other seniors, so please, don't trust everybody. You could trust, but verify. Uh, make sure you're doing the right thing. And also get an attorney before you do any legal action of any property or when it comes to finances or personal items. Don't trust everybody who comes out to be, pretending to be doing something for another person, humanity. You know, trust but verify.  


[00:29:43] Bob: If you have been targeted by a scam or fraud, you are not alone. Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. Their trained fraud specialists can provide you with free support and guidance on what to do next. Thank you to our team of scambusters; Executive Producer, Julie Getz; Researcher, Haley Nelson; Associate Producer, Annalea Embree; and of course, our Audio Engineer, Julio Gonzalez. Be sure to find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. For AARP's The Perfect Scam, I'm Bob Sullivan.  



Recently widowed, Janet has dedicated her life to helping others. When a friend tells her about a charity serving disabled veterans, she is eager to do what she can. The founder, John Paul Hope, is disabled and ill with terminal cancer. Together, they come up with a plan: Janet will give John Paul three acres of the land on her ranch on which he will build tiny homes for veterans in need. After the deed is signed, she realizes he has actually taken 30 acres! Janet comes to the terrible realization that John Paul Hope is not who he says he is.  

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.


How to listen and subscribe to AARP's podcasts

Are you new to podcasts? Learn how to subscribe to AARP Podcasts on any device.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?

spinner image cartoon of a woman holding a megaphone

Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.