Estate company accused of ripping off family after death of father

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DENVER -- A warning about a Colorado business that  claims it will take away the work and stress of selling your family's personal belongings.

But one Littleton family said Ellenberger Auctions and Estates did just the opposite at the most painful time in their lives.

The family contacted the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers for help.

Jodie Sheppard said she knows she should have done the research.

It might have saved her family heartache and a lot of money.

Already dealing with the loss of her dad, John Nelson, 64, last March, Sheppard didn't think it could get worse.

"We were overwhelmed and sad. And it was just a bad time for us.  So, we don't believe these people should be in business and taking advantage of other people," she said.

She hired Scott and Lori Ellenberger to sell not only her father's extensive woodworking tool collection, but most of her mother's belongings since she'd be downsizing.

“They seemed like wonderful people. We had a wonderful experience that day," Sheppard said about meeting the couple at her parents' home who came to look at their estate.

But wonderful turned to concern weeks later, when they didn't receive any money.

"I wasn't getting any response. They weren't answering their phone, not returning my calls. It's then when I started to do the reviews. And I looked at Yelp and my heart just sunk," she said.

A few of those reviews said:

  • "They ripped us off for thousands."
  • “These people are crooks!!!"
  • "I only selected one star because you can't pick zero!"

Even the Better Business Bureau rated the company an "F."

"A week later, I did receive a check for $908.12, which was  a far cry from what the receipts said they owed us," Sheppard said.

Those receipts showed the Ellenberger’s still owed Jodie's family more than $3,300.

And that amount didn't include things they didn't sell and never got back, like her mother’s antique coin and stamp collection and collectible dishes.

The Problem Solvers have not heard back from the company after leaving messages Monday and Tuesday.

"This year, we turned the corner, our family. We're all doing much better. But here I am, still having to deal with this very dark time from last year," Sheppard said.

The family said their motivation in speaking to us is to help others avoid this same disappointment.

They also say it's a shame that victimizing vulnerable people clearly doesn't bother the Ellenbergers one bit.

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