FROM STAFF REPORTS

A Florida man faces multiple felony charges related to a fraud scheme targeting the elderly following a multi-state investigation initiated by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.

Carlton Thomas

Sheriff Darren Campbell announced Thursday that Carlton Ross Thomas, 51, of Tampa, Fla., was in custody in Florida and would be extradited to Iredell County to face charges.

The ICSO began investigating on Wednesday, April 21, after receiving a report that an elderly resident in western Iredell County had possibly been the victim of a scam, Campbell said.

Deputies responded to the victim’s home and met with the victim. The deputies learned the victim had been told by a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer that there were arrest warrants for the victim, Campbell said. The suspect then told the victim that he was trying to help clear up the confusion and take care of the warrants.

The suspect then convinced the victim to send $20,000 in cash by FedEx to an address in Gainesville, Fla, according to the news release.

The victim followed the instructions and put the money in a package, which was sent for overnight delivery, Campbell said.

ICSO Investigators quickly contacted FedEx as well as Florida law enforcement in an effort to locate the package and prevent it from being delivered, according to the news release.

The package containing the cash was intercepted in Memphis, Tenn., Campbell said.

Investigators learned the package was to be delivered to an Extended Stay America Hotel located at 3600 Southwest 42nd Street in Gainesville, Fla. The investigators worked with members of the Gainesville Police Department, Homeland Security agents and FedEx security team members to locate the suspect, who had used a California identification to check in at the hotel, according to the news release.

Thomas, who had an active arrest warrant for the use and possession of fraudulent identifications, was arrested at the hotel, Campbell said.

During the investigation, authorities determined other victims had also sent money to the suspect’s address. A package from Iowa was also stopped before its shipment and money from a victim in Los Angles, Calif., was recovered at the front desk of the hotel in Florida, according to the news release.

In total, $60,000 in cash was recovered through this investigation.

Gainesville police have charged Thomas with three counts of felony exploitation of elders, three counts of felony grand theft, and one count of felony fraud. He is being held in Florida under a $720,000 secured bond.

Thomas was charged by ICSO investigators with felony attempting to obtain property by false pretense and felony exploitation of an elder adult. He will be extradited to Iredell County on these charges.

“It is because of the quick actions of family members and our investigators working this case that we were able to recover $60,000 for these three victims and stop this suspect from harming other elderly victims across the country,” Campbell said.

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