Towing company accused of defrauding customers

Dual operators of a tow truck company have been accused of skirting county rules and overcharging by hundreds of dollars customers who were towed at the request of sheriff's deputies.

Laura Vincent and Eric Mahoney operated Hunter's Towing in Lakeland, and were arrested and face 137 charges each for theft, insurance fraud and breaking county ordinance.

"(It was) the business of a crook," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "Actually, a pair of crooks."

John Scanlon used to drive a truck for Hunter's and is listed as a witness on the affidavit.

He told deputies he overheard Mahoney's conversations.

"(Mahoney would say), 'Oh that's not enough money," Scanlon recalled. "The whole time, he is on a calculator, adding numbers up."

Mahoney and Vincent, when they towed cars at a deputy's request, had to obey specific charges to the owners for distance, storage or the tow itself.

Deputies say all 34 receipts they examined were up-charged by an average of $284.

"It puts a bad taste in somebody's mouth," said Scanlon.

Deputies described tows that should have been $482 that were $882, or $343 that became $768, or $1350 that became $2150.

The total take from the fuzzy math was more than $9,600.

"They cheated you, they cheated the insurance company," said Judd.

Deputies kicked Hunter's off the towing rotation, but warn the duo's capture doesn't mean the company has to shut down.

They expect to find many more than the four individuals confirmed to have been ripped off.

"This is not the end of the investigation," said Judd. "This is the beginning of the investigation."