Traveling "gypsy" scam artists busted in Polk County - WFLA News Channel 8

Traveling "gypsy" scam artists busted in Polk County

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Polk detectives say this truck was used by traveling scam artists. Polk detectives say this truck was used by traveling scam artists.
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Polk County Sheriff's detectives say they stopped a team of traveling "gypsy" scam artists in their tracks.  According to an affidavit, Jim Stevens of North Carolina, Richard Pierce of Tennessee, Chad Lee and Chad Lee, Jr. both of Illinois, traveled to the Auburndale area and solicited homeowners to pave their driveways. However, instead of using quality materials, investigators say the men used a mixture of old crushed asphalt, dirt, and assorted debris in their paving jobs.

Deputies say the men initially preyed on a 74-year old woman who paid them $2,500 for her driveway. Investigators say the men were able to coerce other victims into paying them another $2,500 and $6,400 respectively for driveway paving jobs.

Deputies say all men admitted to using the inadequate materials. Detectives say they observed driveways which were crumbling apart and foliage growing through the material.

Authorities say the four men used several business names such as Orange Paving, Ace Paving, Chad Lee Paving, and Power Black Top Paving. An investigation further revealed that each of these businesses had fictitious addresses and P.O. Boxes.

Sheriff Grady Judd says, "Our deputies are very proactive, and when they are out on patrol they are always looking for what's amiss. I'm very proud of the patrol deputies who spotted these scam artists and were able to stop them from victimizing these Auburndale homeowners. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam like this, call law enforcement immediately."

The suspects, who told detectives they were all related, were booked into the Polk County Jail on multiple charges including burglary of an occupied dwelling, scheming to defraud, and exploitation of the elderly.

All four men will face a judge from the Central County Jail in Bartow Friday afternoon.

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