POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An accused central Florida fence fraudster victimized people in Polk County after evading other law enforcement agencies, according to the sheriff’s office.
Adam Cronenwett, 46, is facing five felony charges in Polk County, including grand theft and obtaining property by fraud.
Arrest warrants are also filed in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Manatee counties according to the arrest affidavit in Polk County.
Victims also include residents in the Orlando area, according to law enforcement officials and media reports.
The Polk County arrest affidavit lists 41 victims in Polk County and surrounding counties with losses up to $2,300 per victim.
“He was taking advantage of people, anybody he can get. He was just like a Venus fly trap, catch them, get their money and then move on to the next victim,” said Brian Bruchey, public information officer with Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Cronenwett was first a target of 8 On Your Side investigations dating back to 2018 when victims in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties reported paying thousands of dollars for fencing work that never happened.
“It’s disgusting,” said one victim.
“We got burned,” said another back in 2018, named Jessica Ellis, who says she paid Cronenwett’s company $2,300. “They never called. They never stopped answering their phones. They removed their business Facebook page and that’s the last I’ve heard.”
While Ellis found a different company to install her fence, in 2021, she’s still upset about the scheme.
“It’s really sad. I wish that he would get caught, obviously, so that there is no more victims,” she said.
She wants Cronenwett to turn himself in.
“Let’s get some closure to all this,” she said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also accuses Cronenwett of identity theft.
“The way he did it is bad because he used some personal information of somebody else to get this business started,” said Bruchey.
Authorities say Cronenwett uses aliases and changes the business name frequently, from “Metro Fences” to “Heartland Fences” to “Family Fence,” in June and July 2020 in eastern Polk County.
“People like that make it hard for us. Customers don’t want to come to us. They want to go to big companies like Home Depot or Lowe’s because they feel more secure. It makes it hard,” said Angel Ruiz.
Ruiz owns Border Control Fencing, a small Winter Haven-based fencing business.
“I feel very strongly and I’m really upset about this. You’re taking not only customers money, you’re taking money out of our pockets also,” said Ruiz.
Authorities recommend people do their research before agreeing to pay any money up-front and get references from neighbors and friends.