OCSO Investigating Elderly Exploitation involving Tree Trimming Workers

FT.. WALTON BEACH, Fla The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is looking into elderly exploitation cases in Fort Walton Beach involving senior citizens who allowed a crew to do tree work on their property.

An 89-year old victim says a man knocked on his door February 24th and said he noticed the property needed some “tree work”. A crew of four men in a truck cut some limbs and later charged him $2500. The victim’s daughter contacted deputies, saying she believes the work done was minimal and unnecessary.

The victim says he was asked to leave blank the portion of the check that says “Pay to the Order Of”. He was also never provided an invoice or asked to sign any contractual agreement.

An 82-year old Fort Walton Beach woman has a similar complaint. She tells the OCSO a black man of medium height and between twenty and forty years old rang her doorbell December 12, 2013 and asked if she wanted her trees trimmed. She told him she did, but could not afford to pay more than $200.

She says the man assured her it would not be more than that, however after a group of four men trimmed some trees, the same individual came back to the door and told her she owed them $4800. Although the victim initially said no, she eventually paid him that amount. She says the man was driving a large white pickup truck with no signs.

Anyone with information on these incidents is asked to contact the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office at 850-651-7400 or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at 850-863-TIPS.

Residents are also warned to be cautious of unsolicited offers of repair work and always make sure you are dealing with a licensed and insured contractor who provides proper identification and documentation.

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