Lakeland man exploits man with special needs, causes him to be evicted from apartment

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Winter Haven Police arrested a man for exploiting a physically and intellectually disabled 44-year-old man on Thursday.

According to police, Christopher Scarlett, 31, of Lakeland, was identified and arrested for exploiting the victim. He reportedly stole $1,045 from him.

Authorities were notified by the victim’s mother when he told her that he didn’t have enough money to pay his rent.

Police say the victim was severely behind with his rent due to the exploitation.

The victim was evicted from his apartment.

The victim and Scarlett crossed paths while utilizing public transportation.

Scarlett befriended the victim and earned his trust, ultimately taking advantage of him.

Scarlett learned over the course of three months that the victim would have money deposited into his account from his part-time job at Steak ‘n Shake.

At one point, the victim didn’t have money to give Scarlett, and Scarlett threatened to kill him.

Police say although Scarlett never physically harmed the victim, it was extremely upsetting to the victim.

Detectives were able to identity Scarlett, who agreed to an interview.

Scarlett acknowledged that he received money from the victim and was aware of his disabilities, but continued to demand money.

Scarlett was taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail.

He is charged with one count of exploitation of the elderly/disabled less than $20,000.

The judge set his bond at $2,000 and ordered that he not have any contact with the victim and not possess a firearm.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the victim through his mother’s email. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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