The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested the leader and 6 members of a crime group that preyed on elderly victims and harassed the elderly to hand over their credit card information so that the criminals could buy expensive power tools at Home Depot and Lowe’s and return the items for cash or sell them to local contractors.
“Detectives were able to dismantle a significant criminal organization that was exploiting elderly people within Pinellas County. The real victims in this case are the elderly. The elderly are very vulnerable, anytime the elderly feels stressed or pressured they should call law enforcement,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
The investigation began in 2012 when Home Depot Corporate Security notified the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office of criminal activities at some of their Pinellas stores.
Detectives said they successfully identified two people in the crime group in June 2012. Each one was arrested for Scheme to Defraud, after $75,622 had been exploited from elderly victims, according to a PCSO news release.
Detectives identified the leader of the crime ring as 38-year-old, Shane Adams of St. Petersburg. Adams was arrested for unrelated drug charges and sent to prison.
Detectives say their investigation began again after Adams got out of prison in July 2013. They say Adams went back to calling elderly victims on the phone, pressuring and berating the elderly to renew magazine subscriptions that were not legitimate.
Detectives say that Adams used the victims’ credit card numbers to buy power tools and appliances from several Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in Pinellas County. The PCSO says Adams also had several “runners” who would return the merchandise to the stores or sell the items to local contractors for sixty cents on the dollar.
Detectives identified 19 elderly victims, ages 65-89 years of age.
Shane faces charges of racketeering (104 Predicate Acts), Dealing in Stolen Property, Grand Theft with Victims Over 65 Years of Age, and Criminal Use of Personal ID.
Six members of Adam’s crime group also were arrested. They face a total of 41 criminal charges, including Dealing in Stolen Property and Grand Thefts.