SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 21, 2013

Con victim fights back

Contractor turns detective after he's stiffed out of $15K

BEVERLY — It all seemed to be on the up and up when Kenneth Silva approached Beverly electrician David Keenan about doing some subcontracting work for him back in 2011.

Silva said he ran a business called International Sign and Construction, and that all of his employees and equipment were tied up on a big job in Philadelphia, Keenan said. Could Keenan handle some jobs for him around Massachusetts as a subcontractor?

“He just looked so legit,” said Keenan. “He had all the flyers and stuff.” He said he had an office on Newbury Street in Boston and another in upscale Logan Square in Philadelphia.

Plus, he promised in writing to pay Keenan within 10 days.

More than a year later, Keenan is still out more than $15,400, and Silva, 45, of Sharon, is facing charges of felony larceny by false pretense.

And along the way, Keenan learned that he’s not the only small business allegedly scammed by Silva.

Keenan rattled off a list of half a dozen other businesses who have also done work for Silva or who paid Silva to do work for them. They’re now hoping police in their jurisdictions will pursue similar charges, said Keenan.

“If there are six or seven of us just on the North Shore and we all got beat up by him, if you take the North Shore and the South Shore, where he lives, and Boston and maybe out by Worcester, you wonder: how many people did this guy get?” said Keenan. “There’s got to be dozens and dozens of us.”

Police now believe Silva would approach businesses offering to handle their sign maintenance. His flyers claimed he’d done work for “Sheraton hotels,” AMC Theaters, Isuzu, Holiday Inn and major retail chains.

One flyer targeted gas stations with the pitch, “Are you tired of manually changing gas prices every morning?”

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