WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - Winter Haven Police arrested a man accused of conning a man with special needs out of more than $1,000, causing the victim to face potential eviction from his condominium.
Donna Urbina said her 44-year-old son, who she asked FOX 13 to not identify, is developmentally delayed and has serious medical issues. For years, however, he has been independent enough to live on his own and hold down a job at Steak 'n Shake.
Two years ago, while riding a bus from his old apartment in Winter Haven to work, he met a man he thought was a good guy.
"My son, he wanted a friend. He wanted a girlfriend. He wanted that socialization. He wanted somebody to talk to him," Urbina said.
According to police, Christopher Scarlett, 31, promised him all of that and, in return, he asked for money over and over again.
Suddenly, to Urbina's surprise, her son was four months behind on rent and about to be evicted from his new condo.
"I asked my son, 'What happened to the money?' and he said, 'I met this guy, Chris, on the bus,'" Urbina said. "I was so angry. I just can't imagine how a person could do that. And it's just, how can you take somebody's money when you know that they could get evicted?"
Winter Haven police stepped in and determined Scarlett had stolen more than $1,000 from Urbina's son. Detectives later learned Scarlett also threatened to kill Urbina's son if he didn't give him more money.
Scarlett was arrested charged with exploiting a disabled person.
"It just is heart-breaking, heart-breaking to think he was taken advantage of and threatened," Urbina told FOX 13, adding she's wondered what kind of person would do this to someone so vulnerable. "I think the lowest of the low. I just can't imagine this type of person and it scares me. It makes me feel bad for everybody who's vulnerable who's out there."
Urbina's son now suffers from congestive heart failure, in addition to seizures brought on by diabetes. She said she is working with her son's landlord to try to come up with a payment plan to prevent his eviction.
Urbina, who says her family doesn't have the finances to immediately pay off the back-rent, set up a fundraising page (gofundme.com/recovery-for-rent-money) to help her son.