What person truly enjoys cleaning their house — let alone, has the time to do so? Between all of the vacuuming, mopping, and dusting, hiring a cleaning service sounds like a much more appealing idea.
However, shelling out a decent amount of money isn’t easy, and neither is finding trustworthy help. Putting your keys, valuables, and possibly your pets in the hands of a complete stranger can lead to some serious consequences that will have you wishing you picked up the broom yourself…
Genevieve Snow is a 29-year-old financial consultant, living with three roommates in an East-Williamsburg, New York loft. When she received an email about discounts from a cleaning company she had used before, she thought it was perfect timing.
After hiring two cleaners from Joanna’s Cleaning Service, Genevieve organized the shared spaces of her apartment, and let the women in, paying them the $185 fee plus a $60 tip up-front. She then said goodbye to her two cats and left for work.
Shortly after, one of Genevieve’s roommates caught a cleaner lounging on the couch as another went in the bathroom — after being specifically told not to — and walked in on the other roommate showering. Not a good start, but it gets worse.
Around lunchtime, Genevieve’s trusted neighbor came by her place to pick up her keys from the cleaning crew. He was surprised to find both the workers passed out. Did Genevieve know about this?
The neighbor immediately alerted Genevieve, who was still at work but sent an email to the owner of the company, Joanna. She felt sympathetic, thinking the women had been overworked, but she had paid them to clean her house not to take naps. But that sympathy wouldn’t last for long…
When Genevieve and her roommate came home after 5, they got the fright of their lives. The front door was left open and two bare feet were sticking out of the kitchen. They instantly dialed 9-1-1. “My first thought was that someone had inhaled cleaning supplies and lost consciousness or died.”
Trash and food were strewn across the floor, shelves were knocked over, and the spice rack was completely destroyed. In the living room, Genevieve found her coffee table flipped over — the place was a total mess.
It was then Genevieve noticed that her previously full bottle of vodka was almost entirely empty. The women were drunk — and one made off with the apartment keys while the other was barely conscious on the floor, wearing a “drink and be merry” shirt. Talk about irony…
The police, an ambulance, and even a fire truck quickly arrived. After making sure the intoxicated woman was physically okay, the cops got her up to talk and took her away. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it.
After everybody left, Genevieve emailed Joanna again, explaining what happened and demanding a refund for all her expenses — including an emergency locksmith. She initially apologized, offered a free cleaning, and said she would “fix it” but that’s not quite how things went…
First, Joanna texted excuses for the employee who was found on the kitchen floor. Later, she started refusing to pay anything and criticized Genevieve for taking photos of the woman in question. This set off even more red flags.
Genevieve began to suspect the whole operation was a scam. The real identity of the person Genevieve spoke to is unclear, and the company’s Facebook address is in the middle of an intersection. The company is nearly untraceable.
Genevieve decided to leave a negative review on their Yelp page, and her friends followed suit, much to Joanna’s dismay. A woman who claimed to be Joanna texted Genevieve in response to these posts, blaming the disastrous service on another cleaning company run by another woman also named Joanna: Joanna Oltuszewska.
Thanks to the internet, Genevieve’s friends were able to do some sleuthing. When they found Joanna Oltuszewska’s empty Facebook page, they noticed she had only one friend. When they sent Genevieve a photo of her, she said: “OMG! That’s Pink Shirt! The lady on my kitchen floor!”
Although Genevieve and her friends have their suspicions, the identity of Joanna is still unclear. They do accept checks so they must have an address, but none that Genevieve was able to find. ‘Pink Shirt’ did change her employment status on Facebook to “self-employed” recently, but nothing has been proven so far.
Genevieve waited until the end of September for Joanna’s Cleaning Service to pony up and pay for the damages and refund the cleaning fee (plus the tip), but the issue remained unresolved. In early October, she planned to take the case to small claims court to seek justice.
Not only was her home disrespected and damaged, but the pets in the house could have escaped through the front door that was left open. Genevieve loves her two rescue cats, Bandit and Calvin, and would be heartbroken if something happened to them.
The physical damages to the apartment have been repaired since the incident, but Genevieve and her roommates are still shaken by the fact that this happened in their home. Determined to make the best of the situation, they took things a step further…
“I’m going to try to work with neighbors to expand formal meet and greet events for the whole block with risk reporting and the like.” Hopefully in the future, the neighbors can work together to help in situations like this one.
A few of Genevieve’s friends urged her to use her new-found fame to set up a GoFundMe page, but Genevieve doesn’t want innocent people to pay for the faults of the cleaning company. Instead, she is encouraging people to donate to the Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.
The outcome of this case is still pending, but Genevieve doesn’t plan to dwell on the negative. Horror stories like these will make anyone think twice about letting a stranger into their house. However, it doesn’t always work out that way…
Julia Belshe was lucky enough to live just a few minutes drive away from her elderly parents, Rudy and Rennie North. Because they were in their 80s and Rennie suffered from neuropathy, they appreciated seeing their daughter most days.
Rudy and Rennie lived in Sun City Aliante, an active adult community near Las Vegas. It was the perfect place where they could be independent and have access to help when they needed it. But they were about to be torn away.
Rudy woke up one morning and fell into his usual routine of eating breakfast and reading while his wife put on her makeup. He paused when a heavy knock sounded on the front door.
Flickr / Friesian22
A stocky woman stood on their doorstep, backed by a few muscled thugs. She introduced herself as April Parks and told Rudy to pack his bags. They had to move to a new retirement home immediately.
Parks stated she filed paperwork to become the North’s new legal guardian and take control of their estate. Confused, Rudy glanced outside at Parks’ Pontiac convertible. It had a vanity plate that read ‘CRTGRDN’ for ‘Court Guardian.’
Rudy didn’t know how this was happening, but Parks and her posse threatened to call the police if he didn’t comply. He knew he and his wife wouldn’t survive in prison, so Rudy had no choice but to play ball.
He and Rennie hastily packed their bags with just what they could carry. While they drove off to their unknown destination, Parks strolled into the Norths’ empty home and started digging through their possessions.
“We open drawers, we look in closets, we pull out boxes,” Parks later explained. She trashed the place looking for valuables and ended up taking a watch, some rare coins, and several important documents. And she was only getting started.
Though she was a total stranger, Parks’ status as legal guardian allowed her to seize any property. She could also sell off anything in order to allegedly cover fees for her services or provide for the North’s well-being.
National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse
That afternoon, Julia visited her parents but panicked when they were nowhere to be found. She could hardly believe it when she learned a stranger legally kidnapped them. Julia sped off to their rescue.
Julia was relieved to see her parents, but they were not in good shape. The nurses in their new building intentionally overmedicated them, so Rudy and Rennie could barely even go outside, let alone resist Parks’ scheme.
Julia spoke with several other residents in the building. Shockingly, they too fell under Parks’ guardianship and lost everything. All these senior citizens were victims of the same loophole. And of April Parks.
Public Radio Tulsa
The Norths were miserable. They received word that they had to move to yet another nursing home and that Parks sold off more of their assets. Julia knew she had to act fast.
Las Vegas Review-Journal / Christian K. Lee
Julia reached out to Rana Goodman, the political editor of the Vegas Voice newspaper. Rana published an article exposing the ‘elder abuse racket’ and circulated a petition to reform these laws.
Thousands signed the petition. That was just enough traction for Julia and her parents to secure a court date against April Parks. She couldn’t hide from them anymore.
Flickr / Garry Knight
Though the judge previously approved of Parks’ business, he now revoked her guardian powers over the Norths. They were thrilled to regain their freedom. However, Julia knew she had to take down Parks once and for all.
As the case continued, Rudy testified about his harrowing experience, expertly weaving in quotes from the Bible, Thomas Jefferson, and Euripides. Clearly, he was not the helpless old man that Parks painted him to be.
For all her cunning, Parks could not come up with any way to defend herself. She was a crook. Right as the hearing ended, she texted her husband, “I am finished.”
In the end, the court indicted Parks for perjury and theft and ordered her to pay the Norths $8.5 million in damages. Justice was served for the Norths, though not everyone in their position was as fortunate.
As long as Nevada and other states keep laws that allow virtually anyone to apply for legal guardianship, elder guardian abuse will continue. Only reform and swift justice can bring down the April Parkses of the world.