Trio of Thieving Tree Trimmers Face Several Fraud Charges
HERNANDO – Scam artists are everywhere and unfortunately, they love to target goodhearted, unsuspecting citizens who still believe most people work hard for fair pay. Fortunately, Law Enforcement Officers work arduously to catch up with these door to door crooks, and yesterday, the Sheriff’s Office removed three of the scoundrels from the streets of Hernando County.
Last week, homeowner Vito Lombardo contacted RNRF, after he was ripped off by a couple who said they would trim his trees for $350. According to Lombardo, the pair took his money, trimmed a couple of branches, and then said they had to leave for a short time to repair a tool. After several hours – Lombardo realized that the tree trimming thieves were not coming back.
We tried to contact the couple by phone, but they never answered or returned our calls.
Today, the Sheriff’s Office reported some good news that brought a smile to Vito Lombardo’s face; three suspects involved in ripping him and several others off were behind bars.
The Sheriff’s Office released the following report regarding the string of thefts:
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit is pleased to announce the arrest of three individuals who were posing as tree trimmers.
On numerous dates and at various locations throughout Hernando County, the three individuals knocked on doors soliciting tree trimming services.
On 08-02-15, the trio which consisted of Traci Renee Hulsey, Clay Hulsey, and Roger Gene Hulsey Jr., knocked on a door on Eustace Street in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door, the suspects offered to complete tree work for $300. The victim agreed to have the work done and paid in full. The Hulsey’s completed very little work and then told the victim they had to leave to complete another job, but would return to complete her job. The Hulseys never returned nor answered any of the victim’s repeated calls.
On 10-28-15, the Hulseys knocked on a door on Dothan Avenue in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door the suspects offered to remove a tree in the yard for $450. The victim told them the job was only worth $150. All parties agreed on the price. The Hulseys stated they needed $100 down and $50 when the job was complete. The Hulseys collected $100 and provided a receipt. The Hulseys then told the victim they needed to go to retrieve a piece of equipment to complete the job but they would leave Clay Hulsey there as a show of “good faith.” Within minutes the victim observed Clay Hulsey walking toward the vehicle the Hulseys arrived in. He got in and the trio left the area without completing any work. The victim attempted to have the Hulseys return to complete the work but receive several excuses; finally, the Hulseys stopped answering calls from the victim.
On 11-12-15, the Hulseys knocked on a door on Dubois Avenue in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door, the Hulseys offered to complete tree work for $100. The victim agreed to have the work done. The victim advised that Roger Hulsey requested the money in advance, in an intimidating manner, which concerned her. She agreed to pay only $60 in advance; however, Roger continued to insist on full payment. Roger told the victim that they (the trio) needed to leave for a bit but would be back to complete the work. Again, as a measure of “good faith” they told the victim they would leave Clay Hulsey behind. When they returned, Roger demanded the rest of the money due to “not having enough money to pay his bills.” The victim refused to provide any additional money and the Hulseys left the area, again without completing any tree work.
On 12-04-15, the Hulseys knocked on a door on Gramercy Lane in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door, the suspects offered to complete tree work for $500. The victim agreed to have the work done and paid in full. The victim advised the Hulseys began the work but left shortly thereafter without completing the work. Someone else had to complete the job.
On 01-06-16, the Hulseys knocked on a door on Eldron Street in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door, the suspects offered to complete tree work for $200. The victim agreed to have the work done. The Hulseys advised the victim they needed to purchase a new chainsaw blade and would need $100 in advance. The victim agreed and gave them the $100. While Traci went “to purchase the chainsaw blade” Clay remained at the residence with the victim. After a few minutes, the victim became suspicious and advised Clay to call Traci and have her return with the money, fearing that she was being scammed. Traci did return but refused to return the money. The Hulseys left the area. The victim called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies located the Hulseys who agreed to return to the residence. Deputies requested the Hulseys return the money. The Hulseys advised the money had been spent on a chainsaw blade but could not produce the chainsaw blade or a receipt. They advised they would return the money, which was never done.
On 02-23-16, the Hulseys knocked on a door on Bedford Road in Spring Hill. When the victim answered the door, the suspects offered to complete tree work for $300. The victim agreed to have the work done and paid in full. The victim advised the Hulseys began the job and stopped. Clay advised that he needed to go pick up his child but would leave his equipment as a show of “good faith” that they would return to complete the job. Other than a rake, no equipment was left behind. The Hulseys never returned. The victim made numerous attempts to contact them and met with negative results.
On 03-21-16, detectives in the Economic Crimes Unit obtained warrants for the arrest of the Hulseys for Organized Fraud.
On 03-26-16 Roger Hulsey Jr. W/M 07-19-1987 was arrested.
On 03-30-16 Clay Hulsey W/M 11-07-1985 and Traci Hulsey W/F 06-04-1986 were arrested.
If you believe you were a victim of the Hulseys, please contact the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit at 352-754-6830.
UPDATE: 3/31/2016, 6:30 P.M. – After reviewing some footage taken on January 10th of this year, we realized that we had captured two of the suspects on camera, while they were being interviewed for a previous theft. No charges were filed that day. (See Below for Youtube Link)
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