Elaborate credit card scheme targeted elderly

- An elaborate credit card scheme targeting elderly residents of Pinellas County has come to an end after three years.

Shane Adams, 38, of St Petersburg, is facing charges of racketeering, dealing in stolen property, grand theft and criminal use of personal ID, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Eight accomplices were arrested for their roles in the credit card scheme.

From 2012 to 2015, Adams targeted more than 19 victims between the ages of 65 and 89, using their credit card information to buy expensive power tools and appliances from Home Depot and Lowe's over the phone and online.

Adams would pose as a magazine salesman, making cold calls to elderly residents and harass them, according to the sheriff, until they would provide their credit card information for an alleged magazine subscription.

Adams and his store "runners" would later return the items for money or store gift cards.

"For these people in their 70's and 80's, they described that they were terrorized by him and forced to give their credit card numbers," said Sheriff Gualtieri.

Investigators confirmed Adams collected more than $75, 622 in his scheme in 2012. He went to jail for a few months in 2013 on unrelated drug charges, later picking back up where he left off, collecting an additional $75,622 from purchases.

According to the sheriff, Adams total theft amount likely totals $800,000, although that amount can not be verified.

"We all pay for that. The Public pays for that. When Home Depot, Lowe's, or any business for that matter, has excessive thefts, it cuts into their business model and we all end up paying for it," said Gualtieri.

Home Depot changed their return policy during the height of Adams' alleged theft ring, requiring an ID to make returns. Adams started  buying appliances and selling them to contractors, according to the sheriff, telling them he was planning to file for bankruptcy and wanted to max out his credit line.

Gualtieri said no contractors are being charged, because they did not know the items were purchased with stolen credit cards.

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