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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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Comments
  • Anyone i can cut your trees but if you give me the money now I’ll come cut them down next week

    Monday, 4 April 2016, 9:32 am
  • They stolemy rent money order out my truck. They were my neighbors. I know they did it

    Saturday, 2 April 2016, 11:55 pm
  • So Sad, But in reality, You can’t trust anyone anymore

    Friday, 1 April 2016, 3:23 pm
  • They came to my home a few months ago with same scam. Said they were in the neighborhood doing work down the road at my neighbors house. Went on and on how they new the lady and stopped by every year to clean up her trees. Said she was a nice lady. They had their truck down by her house and said they were just finishing up. Gave me an estimate of $450.00 which I dickered with and they agreed to do for $400.00 but only today. I asked about their insurance and they said it was in the truck with one of their wives. They told me I could look at it if we agreed to have works done. I said I was going to check them out with Hernando county licensing. They started rambling about they were licensed in Pasco and the laws were different there. I’m already thinking these are scammers but I thought I’d play their game just to give them the run around. I told them I wouldn’t pay anything till work was completed and they said that’s OK but they would need money upfront for a saw blade. I replied ,are you kidding me? you area tree trimming business and you don’t have a blade for you chain saw and want me to give you money up front? He said he thought maybe he had one at home. I asked him were he lives and he tells me he lives out off Anderson Snow road. He proceeded to introduce me to his bother and wife. they tried to make small talk about how they are just a hard working family trying to make a living and believe in treating people right. They went on about how local tree tree trimming businesses screw people by over charging and not doing all the work. I told them I’ve used USA in the past and was very pleased with their work and professionalism ,but just couldn’t afford their resent estimate. They really tried to close the deal but I was firm I was going to talk to my neighbor about the work they did for her and would also verify their credentials. They offered to drop the cost again to $200 and cover all work needed. but I was firm. Their attitude changed and they stormed off. Of course my neighbor never had any dealings with them and no license etc. anywhere. On Facebook there was a post about these 3 scumbags which mentioned they scammed an elderly women. I found their real names and found their prior criminal records and was glad I din’t fall for their sales pitch. I had a feeling they were untrustworthy. I gave a heads up to the authorities.

    Friday, 1 April 2016, 1:02 pm
  • How bout’ folks use licensed contractors! geez…

    Friday, 1 April 2016, 12:44 pm
  • These three thieves were on Bayshore Drive several weeks ago and offered to trim my palms (which needed it), I took my time to explain what exactly was needed and he agreed. The price was $450 which I thought was acceptable, that’s when I told him I would pay after the job was completed, they all just left. Called a professional later in the week and had the work done for $350.00.

    Friday, 1 April 2016, 5:35 am
  • They’re all thieves…they steal from retailers too…I know them personally and word to the wise don’t trust none of them …EVER!!! THEYRE SCUMBAGS!!!!!

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 10:11 pm
  • Hey Tom, how is your night going? I might know a few things about a something

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 9:56 pm
  • Oh and ask for their insurance information to make sure it is active.

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:57 pm
  • This is why you should should expect a company to have a fully lettered work truck, check for business license and never pay until job is complete. Why anyone would risk not doing these things and put themselves at risk for not only not doing the job but potential liability issues if someone got hurt on their property completely astounds me.

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:36 pm
  • N E V E R pay up front… esp. in Fla. to door to door scammers… and most of these sleazeballs are… There are a FEW exceptions…..

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:32 pm
  • Another brush with HCSO, Shear luck they got caught. They probably never saw it coming..

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:27 pm
  • Sandy thats is correct if you have to pay up front you know something is wrong you should have money on you to do the work for materials dump fees etc. They used the money for drugs and McDonald’s for Traci

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:19 pm
    • not always… it is a sad misconception.

      Thursday, 31 March 2016, 9:21 pm
  • Good job HCSO but i bet the state attorneys will not bring charges against these three they will drop it like they do with other good arrests

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 8:14 pm
  • Con artists are very charismatic. Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 7:58 pm
  • Bat Rastards

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 7:51 pm
  • I have used these people on two or three occasions and have had no trouble. They leave the area clean and are very curtious.

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 7:27 pm
  • I don’t understand why any one would pay upfront. I would never pay until the work was done, and done right..

    Thursday, 31 March 2016, 6:59 pm
    • Exactly!! As a landscaper, i have never charged up front unless it was for material, not labor. I have a few thousand dollar job i am estimating… the material is most of the cost, with a son headed to college I cannot afford that. I always give my supplier’s name and number so my customers can pay for it themselves this way they know the job will be done.

      Thursday, 31 March 2016, 9:20 pm

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