Couple sentenced in $800K home-improvement fraud

A husband and wife were sentenced to seven and nearly three years, respectively, in federal prison Thursday for defrauding some 100 known victims out of more than $800,000 they pre-paid for home-improvement projects that were never completed.

In October, Tyler D. Hansen, 52, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering and his wife, Jennifer Hansen, 43, pleaded guilty to money laundering in the scheme that lasted nearly two years and targeted homeowners in more than 16 Wisconsin counties.

Between October 2020 and September 2022 and using various business names, the couple signed contracts with customers to build or install sunrooms, bathrooms, roofs and windows or do other work, requiring 50% down payments, according to court documents — but they never intended to do the work.

Husband and wife plead guilty to federal charges in multi-county home improvement fraud scheme

Once customer checks were deposited, the Hansens transferred the money to multiple personal accounts, court documents say. They used the money for personal expenses and to feed Tyler Hansen’s drug habit, prosecutors said.

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Five of the Hansens’ victims testified during their back-to-back sentencing hearings before U.S. District Judge William Conley, telling stories of how the Hansens presented themselves as caring and enthusiastic but ultimately left them with a poorly constructed and unfinished bathroom needed by a disabled veteran, a house without siding for a family with four children, an uncompleted and shoddily done home addition that led to further home damage, and other problems, both financial and emotional.

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Royce Babcock, of Wisconsin Dells, said he and his family were living in a garage after his home burned down and Tyler Hansen at first seemed like a godsend because he was willing to help them rebuild during the pandemic.

“When he took that money and ran we lived in that garage for a long time,” he told Conley.

Tyler Hansen apologized to his victims, saying “people work hard for their money and they didn’t deserve this.” He said he had initially put $50,000 into a failing a home-improvement business and his troubles escalated from there.

Jennifer Hansen received a shorter sentence because she was acting largely under the influence and bullying of her husband, and because she had no previous criminal record in Wisconsin, Conley said. Her difficult upbringing that included foster care was also a mitigating factor, he said.

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Tyler Hansen has narcotics-possession convictions from 2015 and faces state-level felony charges in Fond du Lac County in connection with the home-improvement fraud, and he has faced multiple state civil suits related to his string of businesses.

Names the business operated under included Windowsealed, Ecoview Windows of South Central Wisconsin and Windows Unlimited. The criminal complaint alleges that the defendant changed the name to avoid negative publicity when clients named the business in complaints about unfinished work.

A restitution hearing for the Hansens is set for March 15, although Conley and the Hansens’ victims indicated Thursday that the victims are unlikely to get much, if any, of their money back.

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