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Suspect victimizes senior citizen during construction fraud plot

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 20-335



Suspect victimizes senior citizen during construction fraud plot

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office charged a man after he defrauded the company he worked for, and an elderly victim, out of thousands of dollars. 
The suspect, Richard Ellis, 35, was employed by a local construction company and was hired by the victim in April 2020. Ellis, a project manager, convinced the victim to pay $18,500 in cash for construction work planned on the home. Ellis never turned the funds into the company and later quit unexpectedly. 
Following an investigation, a warrant was issued for Ellis' arrest. He turned himself in to deputies last week. Ellis is charged with Grand Theft Third Degree ($10,000-$20,000).
"There are no excuses for taking advantage of someone, especially a person in one of our most vulnerable communities, like this suspect did," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "The suspect walked away with the cash, and now, the construction company is at a loss. It's a shame that his selfish actions affected so many people, especially during a time when many are still struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic."
In a recent Public Service Announcement (PSA), Sheriff Chronister offers advice when looking for and hiring a contractor for home improvement services. It can be viewed here