Palm Harbor man promotes get-rich-quick deals that leave investors fuming

Palm Harbor man promotes get-rich-quick deals that leave investors fuming (Image 1)

Rob Fletcher, owner of Artistic Landscape Design in Palm Harbor, is a master of the get rich quick deal. But many of Fletcher’s former investors tell Eight On Your Side that Fletcher is the only one profiting in his various business ventures.

Critics claim Fletcher disarms skeptics by coming across as a friendly landscaper and a regular Joe–then pitches business deals that promise quick profits of 500% to 1000% for investing in such things as landscape equipment, scratch and dent appliances and garden plants purchased on the cheap from foreclosed nurseries.

“My initial investment was $6500 cash,” said Fletcher’s Palm Harbor neighbor Shaun Phillips. “He claimed to give me $32,000 back on an investment.

Phillips insists Fletcher hasn’t paid back any of his investment, much less the quick profit he promised in the deal. “Absolutely nothing,” Phillips said.

Tips: What you need to know, pitfalls of the get rich quick deal

Another neighbor, Scott Crawford, is suing Fletcher after allegedly losing $30,000 in one of Fletcher’s quick return business deals. “Every day I drive by his house or I knock on his door or I call him or I text him and every day I get a promise,” said Campbell.

But so far, Crawford claims his only repayment has been in the form of a bad check for $6,000 that Fletcher handed him on Thanksgiving Day.

“Every day I get a promise from him that I’m going to get money and it lever ever happens,” said Campbell. “Something always comes up.”

Martin Sundahl tells Eight on Your Side he first met Fletcher while Fletcher was doing some landscaping work at his house with his Palm Harbor company Artistic Landscape Design.

Sundahl says Fletcher started talking about a business investment that promised a quick profit and it sounded like a great opportunity. “The funny thing is it all made so much sense,” said Sundahl.

Not anymore. Sundahl insists that Fletcher owes him thousands and keeps coming up with excuses why he can’t make good on his promises. “He has no remorse or anything,” said Sundahl. “He doesn’t care.”

Jackie Anteau rehabs houses for a living and says she agreed to give Fletcher $10,000—her life savings—to invest in an appliance deal that Fletcher promised would return her investment more than tenfold in four weeks.

“You’ll have more money than you know what to do with,” Anteau recalls Fletcher telling her. “I’ll take care of you, no worries, I’m a good guy.”

Anteau claims when Fletcher failed to deliver on his promises she had to pester him for months before getting back her $10,000 investment. Unlike any other investor we’ve spoken with she also ended up with a $3000 profit, but far less than the six figure payday Fletcher sold her on to get her money.

A South Florida investor who briefly partnered with Fletcher in his landscape business is suing Fletcher for $165,000 in loans the investor alleges were based on a phony income stream by Fletcher’s landscape company, Artistic Landscape Design.

Another former partner of Artistic Landscape Design, Reuben Hider, is suing for an unpaid Hess gas bill that he insists Fletcher welched on. “He is a very smooth talker. He will sell you on anything, including the dreams of the World,” said Hider. “The problem is he can’t execute.”

One investor—who asked not to be named because he’s embarrassed—showed Eight on Your Side tens of thousands of dollars in bad checks written to him by Fletcher—so many that the investor’s bank dropped him as a bad risk customer.

At times there are so many creditors converging on Fletcher’s Palm Harbor home in search of repayment that they stop and commiserate with each other over the money Fletcher owes them.

During our first visit to Fletcher’s home on April 2nd, three of Fletcher’s former investors spontaneously showed up to discuss their problems collecting debts from him while standing on the sidewalk in front of his house. In the course of the day several other people drove by complaining that Fletcher owes them, as well.

Fletcher tells Eight on Your Side there is more to this story than his critics are saying, but refused to discuss any of it with us. Fletcher even referred us to his attorney who then told Eight on Your Side he does not represent Fletcher because Fletcher has not paid him a fee for his services.

Over the course of 18 days in April Fletcher repeatedly promised an interview, only to find reasons every time to postpone our questioning of him about his business practices.

Investors and former business partners have filed four civil lawsuits in Pinellas County against Fletcher. Last week his landlord has started an eviction action because Fletcher has allegedly stopped paying rent at his Palm Harbor rental home on 4733 Lake Valencia Blvd W.

Even Fletcher’s former maid Cynthia Martin is suing him for $2175 worth of unpaid house cleanings. ”I work hard for my money and people like that should be put away,” Martin said. “I don’t care if I get anything out of it. I just want him to go down.”

Some of Fletcher’s angriest investors have filed complaints with Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services. There is an open criminal investigation by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Economic Crimes Unit based on multiple complaints.

The findings of the sheriff’s investigation are now under review by the Pinellas State Attorney’s Office. Meanwhile, Fletcher doesn’t face any criminal charges and is free to wheel and deal as he likes.

Fletcher’s former maid Cynthia Martin has some advice for anyone who’s tempted to perform services for Fletcher or buy into one of his get rich quick investments.

“Just run,” Martin said. “Don’t go near him.”

Copyright WFLA 2015.  All rights reserved.

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