Two convicted con artists who went to prison for an organized fraud scheme we first uncovered in an 8 On Your Side investigation five years ago are back in the home improvement business.
“The gall of these guys to even come back here and start up again, which tells me they don’t care what they do or who they do it to,” said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano.
Carlton Dewayne Dunko and Frank Martin Pureber once ran a notorious storm repair insurance scam that gleaned millions from consumers in 11 states, through a company called American Shingle before moving to Tampa and operating a similar roofing scam uncovered by us in 2013 called NBRC Construction.
They both went to prison in 2016 for ripping off nearly 100 NBRC victims in six Tampa Bay area counties for more than $631,000 and are now serving probation.
They still have pending fraud cases in Connecticut and Missouri related to their past business schemes.
But that hasn’t stopped them from marketing home improvements again right here in our community.
What they’re doing now
Dunko and Pureber work for a former associate named Neal Scoppettoulo who operates Crestlake Services LLC and Summitwood Works LLC.
The address Scoppettuolo lists for Summitwood Works office is also Dunko’s home address in the gated New Tampa community of Cheval.
Scoppetuolo says his office and Dunko’s home addresses are the same because he helped Dunko lease the property by using his name. Scoppettuelo also listed Dunko’s home address as his own residence when arrested for DUI in March.
State records show that Dunko and Scoppettuolo ran four business together in past.
In a five page “press release” Scoppettuolo sent to WFLA in response to our requests for an interview, he insists that Dunko and Pureber have nothing to do with his roofing business, Summitwood Work, because that would violate their probation in the NBRC case.
Scoppettuolo says they perform sales and marketing consulting for another company he formed called Focus Group. Probation reports filed by Dunko and Pureber confirm they work for Scoppettuolo in sales and marketing and operations.
Banned in Pasco
Fasano recently banned Scoppettuolo’s Crestlake Services company from operating in Pasco as a contractor for the PACE program after expressing concern over his “deceitful” marketing practices.
PACE is a government-sanctioned lending tool that allows homeowners to borrow money from private lenders for energy-related home improvements and pay it back on their annual property tax bills.
Fasano oversees the PACE program in Pasco. He says PACE promotional flyers sent out by Scoppettuolo’s company masqueraded as official tax documents and falsely warned consumers they had defective roofs.
One of those consumers who received Scoppettuolo’s promotional mailing is Anthony Greco, who insists there is absolutely nothing wrong with his roof.
“How did they know,“ Greco said. “Is it magic, did they send a drone?”
8 On Your Side sent a drone to check out Greco’s roof and it looks fine to us.
Pasco Property Appraiser Gary Joiner also oversees PACE and says Scoppettuolo’s official looking mailers didn’t pass his sniff test either.
“Right across it, it clearly says in red letters, ‘property tax information enclosed,’” Joiner said.
“Well I have to tell you, anybody that gets anything in the county in Pasco that has anything property tax related is either going to come from myself or my good friend the Tax Collector Mike Fasano, so right off the bat, that’s a big red flag for me.”
Scoppettuolo claims he voluntarily stopped selling roof repairs and other home improvements in Pasco under the PACE program.
“I assure you they didn’t leave voluntarily,” Fasano said.
Either way, Scoppetuolo didn’t go far.
8 On Your Side discovered he’s running similar promotions under the pretense of a “new Florida Program” in Hillsborough County.
Dunko and Pureber tell their probation officers they perform marketing and operational management for Scoppettuolo’s Focus Group.
Door hangers distributed by Crestlake Services promise financing for air conditions even for “property owners with bad credit.”
The fliers make no mention that under the PACE program, if homeowners can’t pay the added cost of loans on top of their tax bill, they could end up losing their homes in a tax sale.
Living large on probation
Scoppettuolo’s latest ventures must be profitable because Dunko reports to his probation officer that he makes as much as $12,000 a month performing “all aspects of management and sales.”
Dunko is currently paying about 100 victims from his previous fraud scheme $500 a month in restitution. At the current rate, he’ll pay his debt to society in about 105 years.
In his probation report, Dunko says his number one goal is to be debt free and pay off his restitution. Goal number two is to “serve more at church.”
According to probation reports, Pureber isn’t paying any restitution, claims he’s earning $3,000 a month and lives with his mother.
Pureber lists his number one goal as “gym.” His number two goal is to “eat better.”
Pureber tells his probation officer he works as an operations manager for Scoppettuolo, but we found him making two air conditioning sales calls to consumers in Hillsborough who had no idea they were dealing with a convicted fraud artist.
When we approached Pureber for comment during one of his sales calls, he jumped into his F150 pickup truck and drove away at high speed.
When we parked outside of Scoppettuolo’s Focus Group offices at the Corporex business center, someone in his office called sheriff’s deputies to have us removed.
Dunko and Pureber later drove away convoy-style and made evasive turns to avoid us.
Praying or preying?
Scoppettuolo calls himself a born-again Christian and insists that both men helped foster a spiritual awakening at his companies and “implemented daily corporate prayer, which amazingly evolved into an important part of many of the employees’ lives.”
He believes they deserve a second chance.
“They are both Godly men who got caught up in a bad business model and a bad situation,” Scoppettuolo writes.
Fasano is a devout Catholic and says he is troubled to hear two convicted fraud artists who once ran the biggest roofing scam in the nation’s history and repeated that model time and again now portrayed as “Godly men” by one of their longtime business associates.
“It’s just sad they would use religion to sell a product,” Fasano said.
8 On Your Side Tips to Avoid Contractor Scams
- Be wary of any home improvement offers you find on your door or receive on your phone and don’t get rushed into any deal with “today only” high pressure sales tactics.
- Obtain at least three estimates before proceeding with any home improvement job requiring contractors.
- Make sure your home improvement contractor is licensed AND local.
- Make sure your contractor has a license in good standing and research any disciplinary history.
- Check the complaint history of a contractor through state and local government consumer watchdog sources:
- Check ratings with non-government consumer watchdogs such as: https://www.bbb.org/west-florida/public/accreditation-interest or https://www.ripoffreport.com/ or simply Google the name.
- Use PACE as a last resort for home improvement financing since it will add to your tax bill and non-payment could result in foreclosure. If you go that way, obtain a FULL list of PACE approved contractors before getting three estimates.
- If you have questions about PACE (and you should have plenty), contact your County Tax Collector BEFORE signing an contracts or go to the PACE state site.