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Police investigate elderly woman’s claim ‘small fortune’ lost to broken promise

Police investigate elderly woman's claim 'small fortune' lost to broken promise

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lola Jace made a meager living as “the flower lady,” selling posies for decades on street corners in a Wanskuk neighborhood, but she claims she still found a way to provide “envelopes of money” to a man who promised to write her life story. 

“[I made] maybe $20, $30,” Jace said. “When I was younger, I used to make more to help pay my rent, help out the family.” 

Jace and her children are still waiting for the book, and Providence Police are investigating her allegations that the writer took the cash but did not honor a contract. 

“It was a small fortune for me,” Jace said. “I gave him about $2,000. He told me I’d write the book. Whatever you say, I’ll put down.”

The writer’s name was redacted from the police incident report, and he has not been charged with a crime.

Police would not comment on the details but did say the case remains open.

Jace said it all started about two years ago, when a friend recommended a Providence man to write her life story about growing up in poverty and surviving discrimination and other ordeals.

“It’s a life story and what happened to the Gypsy families,” Jace explained. “It’s all in the book.”

According to Jace, she signed a contract, but never recieved a copy of the document.

She met with the writer for about two years, she said, handing him an envelope with money in it and telling her story in a room at the Veazie Street library.

Jace and her family said they recieved a letter from the writer’s publishing company in March, when a “proof copy” was promised “in a few weeks.”

The manuscript never came.

Target 12 contacted the individual last week and in a text message he wrote, “The book will be in her hands. Before Friday.” 

The Jaces said the book did not come, and that lately the writer has been hard to find.

One address he provided turns out to be the Corliss Street post office.

The address on the March letter the family claims they recieved is 4321 First St. in Providence, an address that doesn’t exist.

Jace’s son Rick said the family will continue to ask the writer for the book, or for him to return their mother’s money. 

“He’s all defensive,” Rick Jace said when asked how the writer responds to the family’s questions. “What are you talking about? I never talked to you. It’s just between me and your mom.”

His mother is frustrated, but still hopeful.

“I don’t know what he did. All I know is he said the book is coming out good,” she said.

If you or someone you know have similiar claims of alleged fraud, Providence Police would like to hear from you.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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