MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 has an alert for baby boomers who are thinking about the next chapter in their lives. Contact 6 says extreme caution must be utilized before financing a great new adventure.
John Sanders and his wife, Gloria, a caterer by trade, dreamed of converting an old church into a party venue. Catering big events would be the couple's next big adventure together.
First, the Sanders would need a mortgage to purchase the $1.6 million property, they asked their real estate agent for help finding a mortgage broker.
"Unfortunately, we were put in touch with someone who turned out to be a criminal," Sanders said.
That mortgage broker, Ann Ursiny promised to help the Sanders get the financing they needed.
"There were a lot of things done to reinforce the legitimacy of the firm and we fell for it," Sanders said.
She strung the Sanders along with phony fees and permits that cost more and more money, until they ran through their savings.
"We saw this money was funneled directly to bank accounts to this individual in Florida - Ann Ursiny - and she was spending this money daily," U.S. Postal Inspector Andrew Jones said.
Over a four-year period, the Sanders lost a total of $1 million -- making their dream impossible to realize.
"They are now left with absolutely nothing. Ms Ursiny took everything from their 401K, their retirement funds, savings, checking. Now they are left destitute trying to find work at age 80," Jones said.
Postal inspectors say it's best to work with well-known banks and agents -- especially when large amounts of money are involved.
As for Ursiny, she eventually confessed to the scheme and is serving a six-year prison sentence. She was ordered to pay restitution to the Sanders, but the couple says they doubt they will ever see their money again.