POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The owner of a Polk County fencing company went from railing against fraud to being accused of committing it.
Angel Ruiz, owner of Border Control Fencing, was arrested in late December on two counts of grand theft and one count of scheme to defraud.
In April 2021, 8 On Your Side interviewed Ruiz about the owner of a different company committing fraud against his customers.
“It makes it hard. It makes it real hard,” said Ruiz at the time. “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.”
Around the same time, Lakeland’s Linde Widick was installing a new pool and needed a fence to surround it.
“My pool company recommended [Border Control Fencing] and we wanted to support a small business in the area during COVID,” said Widick.
Widick said Ruiz mentioned her appearance on 8 On Your Side’s report.
“We felt confident using her. Then later is when the problem hit,” she said.
Widick and her husband gave Ruiz thousands of dollars for a security deposit.
Early on, Ruiz mentioned some supply chain delays.
Then it came time for installation.
“After a while, she just stopped responding and so we texted and our pool company reached out to her as well and we just had no response, so I actually sent her a certified letter to make sure,” she said.
According to Ruiz’s arrest affidavit, the letter was accepted and signed for.
After waiting for two months with no communication, Widick contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and other victims were located.
Ruiz was then arrested.
“Nothing like this has ever happened. I’m not a thief,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz claimed in a phone interview Thursday she had every intention to do the work but supply chain delays and price increases got in the way.
“I couldn’t get them their material quick enough. They got mad and wanted to cancel the jobs on me. I didn’t have the money to pay them,” she said.
Ruiz said she lost her business and sold her home to repay her alleged victims, while she faces jail time.
“The jobs were being put off and it doesn’t help much for the bottom line but ripping off your customers is not the way to go about it,” said Brian Bruchey, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.