St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 18, 2014 – The owner of Elite Placement, a St. Louis area rental assistance firm that has been the focus of more than 50 recent customer complaints and reports with Better Business Bureau (BBB), has a 13-year history of complaints of defrauding consumers.BBB advises extreme caution when dealing with Patricia Ann Draine of St. Charles. Draine has used several other names including Patricia Drain, Patricia Follin, Patricia Folin, Patricia Jenkins, Patricia Jinkins, Patricia Andrews, Patricia Davis, Patricia Harris, Patricia Anderson and Patricia Silver.Draine has served two jail terms – the first in 2006 on a federal conviction of Social Security fraud and the second in 2012 on a state conviction of felony stealing and forgery.In 2002, Draine entered into a consent agreement in St. Charles County after then-Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued her for defrauding numerous clients in a residential referral fee operation that the office labeled a scam. In that case, Nixon’s office also accused Draine of illegally operating a credit repair business.The agreement bars Draine from taking money for credit repair services and for “receiving any deposits or application fees, as well as other consideration, in connection with locating residential units.” Draine also agreed to pay more than $50,000 in restitution and fines.Elite Placement lists an address in west St. Louis County, but the company does not have a physical office in that building. Draine lists a home address in St. Charles County.Elite Placement has an “F” grade with BBB, the lowest possible.The company’s website, eliteplacementinc.com, describes itself as the “world’s best tenant and landlord placement program.”Recent consumer complaints allege that Draine and Elite Placement took deposits from clients in return for promises to help find rental properties. Most of the complainants said Draine and Elite Placement promised to refund the deposits if the company did not assist them in getting a new home, but then reneged on the refunds.Michelle Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO, said Draine has become notorious for complaints of defrauding consumers in the St. Louis area and across the nation. “This woman has been, and remains, a significant threat to anyone who does business with her,” Corey said. “Despite a long history of law enforcement action, it appears that Ms. Draine may be continuing to come up with new schemes to take money from innocent consumers.”In the 2002 case, the Missouri attorney general accused Draine and her mother-in-law of operating a fraudulent residential fee business under the name Diversified Solutions & Investigations Inc. The state said Diversified promised to refund clients’ deposits if the business was unable to find acceptable rental properties. In a court document, the attorney general noted that clients paid deposits ranging from $100 to $1,200. In many cases, the court case said, the company found no acceptable property and did not issue refunds.The attorney general also referred to what it called “Draine’s elaborate cover-up and diversion,” in which consumers received letters explaining how to obtain refunds from Diversified. The state said the letters told consumers to send refund requests to an address in Dallas, Texas, that did not exist. The office said the letters purportedly were signed by an official of Diversified, but that official did not exist either. The special attorney handling the case accused Draine of engaging in a “pattern of deception in taking money from poor persons looking for a residence.” He said she “has gone to great lengths to cover up her misdeeds.”In the federal case, Draine pleaded guilty to using another person’s Social Security number to commit fraud and theft. In that 2006 case, her public defender said in a court filing that her client’s actions “resulted in a great financial loss to many people.”BBB records also show several complaints filed against another of Draine’s businesses, Mid West Flawless Entertainment, which she registered under the name Patricia Follin in 2008. In two cases, consumers said they paid Draine and Mid West more than $1,200 each for cruises that never occurred. Both said they have been unable to obtain refunds.Draine was released from prison in December 2012 on the forgery and stealing case. Records show she registered Elite Placement two months later. Consumer complaints against Elite Placement in recent months are similar to complaints filed with BBB and the Missouri attorney general’s office against Diversified between 2001 and 2003.A woman from St. Louis said she gave Elite a $400 deposit in May on a promise that the firm would find her a place to live. When it failed to locate a home for her, she said she asked for a refund a month later. She said she has not received anything.A man from Phoenix, Ariz., said he contacted Elite about locating a home in Charlotte, N.C., but every property the firm suggested was unacceptable. He said he asked for a refund of his $500 deposit in August, but has received nothing. “It’s been one excuse after another.”In a phone interview, Draine acknowledged taking money for rental work, but said she was not aware that her actions violate the attorney general’s injunction. “I don’t want to do anything I’m not supposed to do,” she said. Several hours after BBB emailed her a copy of the injunction, she said she had decided to stop charging for services. “There will be no application fees or service fees or any other fees associated with our program,” she said in an email.Asked about her guilty plea in the federal Social Security fraud case, Draine said it was a simple case of someone transposing numbers on her father’s Social Security card. “Nobody was hurt,” she said. She said she did not remember particulars from the forgery case or the complaints involving the failed cruise deals. She blamed many of her problems on law enforcement and said they had a preconceived idea of her and her businesses. “Once they feel you are a certain type of person, they don’t care.”BBB offers the following tips for consumers looking to hire a rental assistance firm:Deal only with reputable companies. Check a company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.Read any agreement carefully before signing it, noting the terms of the agreement and spelling out what will happen if either you or the business breaks the agreement.Be cautious about paying any money in advance for rental assistance. Find out if your payment will be returned in the event the business cannot locate a property.Check to determine whether any licenses are required and whether the business meets local, state and federal regulations.