LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office on Friday announced a major racketeering bust involving an organized crime ring.
The criminals, lead by Shane Adams, used fake magazine sales to elderly victims to steal their credit card information, according to investigators. That information was then used to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The organization employed numerous “runners” to obtain stolen merchandise and sell and return the items for large sums of money. Some of the items were sold at deep discounts to local contractors, investigators say. Stores involved were in Pinellas County and Tampa.
The crime was divided by investigators into two phases. During phase 1, alleged ringleader Shane Adams was arrested.
Phase 2 began after Adams’ release from prison in July of 2013. Detectives say Adams returned to his elaborate criminal scheme and proceeded to call elderly victims on the phone and fraudulently pressure the victims to renew magazine subscriptions that were not legitimate.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that Shane Adams would call elderly victims on the phone and use “high pressure sales tactics to harass and berate elderly victims in to giving him their credit card information.”
Investigative surveillances eventually lead to the arrest of Shane Adams for Racketeering (104 Predicate Acts), Dealing in Stolen Property, Grand Theft with Victims Over 65 Years of Age, and Criminal Use of Personal ID.
Six members of Adam’s criminal organization were arrested for a total of 41 criminal charges that included Dealing in Stolen Property and Grand Theft. Investigators identified nine other people as part of the scheme.
Detectives said that the total investigative financial loss from this criminal organization was $173,894; however, detectives estimate the total financial loss over the three year period at $800,000.
The case involves at least 19 victims, but investigators believe there could be hundreds scattered across the country.
“These elderly victims were terrorized and intimidated,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualitieri.