Yellow Pages fraudster targets elderly in home improvement scam, Orlando police say

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ORLANDO, Fla. - A 51-year-old man and his wife are accused of running an extensive fraud scheme targeting elderly victims who would pay thousands of dollars for unneeded home improvements, police said.

Michael Auxier was arrested Friday at a customer’s home in Sanford and is now facing several charges in connection with the alleged fraud.

According to investigators, Auxier would place ads in phone books as an electrical contractor.

When a customer called, his wife, Marie Avare, would act as a customer service agent and set up appointments with “Dave,” who ended up being Auxier, the Orlando Police Department said.

Auxier would visit clients and find fake electrical issues throughout the home, investigators said.

One of his alleged victims, Orlando resident Lillian Vargas, said she ended up paying $23,000 for services from Auxier that her home didn’t need.

“First, he checked the electric panel,” she said. “And that’s when he said, ‘This house has been hit by lightning.’”

Auxier, who is not a licensed electrician, told Vargas to call her insurance company about the damage, police said.

When he finished with the supposed lightning damage, Auxier would then find other problems throughout the home, including asbestos, air conditioning issues and foundation issues, investigators said.

Vargas’ insurance company paid $12,000 of Auxier’s bill, but the other $11,000 came out of her own pocket.

Auxier and Avare currently have warrants for their arrest out of Louisiana on charges of residential contractor fraud, the OPD said.

Auxier has also served jail time in Kentucky for similar fraudulent activity, police said.

At the address where the self-proclaimed electrician was arrested, customer Norma Henry was about to hand over a check for work.

Fortunately, she said, Auxier was arrested before she did.

“He only got me for $2,600,” she said. “But he was coming by my house to pick up a $7,000 check.”

Eduardo Jimenez was at Vargas' home Friday finishing work left undone by Auxier.

The house, he said, didn’t need any of the work Auxier said it did.

“This house is in good condition,” Jimenez said.