• Alleged traveling 'gypsy' scam artists arrested in Polk County


    POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Polk County Sheriff's Central District patrol deputies said they arrested four traveling "gypsy" scam artists working in the Auburndale area of Polk County Thursday. 

    According to arrest reports, Jim Stevens, 35, Richard Pierce, 44, Chad Lee, Sr., 40, and Chad Lee, Jr., 20  drove to the Auburndale area in several commercial vehicles and solicited home owners to allow them to pave their driveways. 

    The report also stated that the first victim, a 74-year-old woman, agreed to pay the men $2,500 to pave her driveway on Terry Lane. 

    The men also went to two other homes on Terry Lane and one on Thornhill Road, and negotiated with the victims, who agreed to have their driveways paved for $2,500 and $6,400, investigators said.

    Authorities said the men admitted to paving the driveway with a mixture of old crushed asphalt, dirt and assorted debris. 

    Detectives said they were at the scene to investigate the driveways, which were crumbling apart with foliage sticking out through the material. 

    Investigators said they found the four men using several different paving business names such as Orange Paving, Ace Paving, Chad Lee Paving, and Power Black Top Paving. They said each business had a fictitious address or P.O. Box. 

    Authorities said the men had driver's licenses from three different states: Tennessee, North Carolina and Illinois.  

    "Our deputies are very proactive, and when they are out on patrol, they are always looking for what's amiss.  I'm very proud of the patrol deputies who spotted these scam artists and were able to stop them from victimizing these Auburndale homeowners.  If you feel you have been the victim of a scam like this, call law enforcement immediately," said Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

    The men were booked into the Polk County Jail without bond. 

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