Elderly Broward Woman Speaks Out About Termite Scam
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DANIA BEACH (CBS4) – An 88-year-old Dania Beach woman is speaking out after paying $1100 to two men in what BSO says was a termite scam.
Now, the Broward Sheriffs Office is also warning residents about the two men and their unlicensed company: Legend Tree Service.
“I think they’re both crooks,” said the victim. “I think it was very dishonest.”
She asked that CBS4 not reveal her identity, but she told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that she wants to speak about the two men who she said took her money, and who she said are on the BSO flyer.
D’Oench spoke to her at a nursing home where she was visiting her husband.
The two men on the flyer are Michael Scott Goodwin, 51, of Pembroke Pines and George B. Scott, 52, of Hollywood.
The BSO flyer said they “have a history of exploitation of the elderly.”
The flyer said they have been handing out business cards for “Legend Tree Service” and been advising victims that their trees or gardens are infested with termites and that they must “spray immediately” to prevent the termites from destroying their homes.
The flyer says Legend Tree Service is not licensed as a company and is not licensed to spray. It said the two men have collected initial payments from victims, and then have returned on the following day to collect a second payment, even though no further work was done. The flyer says they recently targeted elderly residents in a mobile home park in Dania Beach.
A similar warning was issued by the BSO Tamarac District, which notes, “A business card alone is not sufficient documentation to proceed with an agreement for services.”
CBS4 spoke with a victim who lives at the Estates of Fort Lauderdale Mobile Home Park off Stirling Road in Dania Beach.
She said she felt she could trust the men who told her that her Robellini palm tree was infested.
“He said termites were going to get under my house,” she said. “I live in a mobile home. It was going to destroy my house. The minute I heard termites, I got all shook up so I just gave him the money, $550 on the first day and $550 on the second day.”
“He said he wanted to prune that tree and I’m going to spray all the foliage around your home for $550,” she said. “First it was $330, then $550. Then he came the next day and charged me another $550.”
She said very little work was done.
“I’ve got over a thousand dollars invested in this Robellini that he trimmed a little bit and supposedly sprayed with insecticide for termites,” she said.
The case drew a strong warning from BSO.
“These predators always look for people in the community who are vulnerable,” said BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright.
“If someone comes to your home, then be aware,” she said. “You have the right to say give me your card. Give me your information. I’ll get back to you. You have the right to say no thank you. I don’t want to do business with you.”
“The best thing to do, the best course of action is to get the information. Research it. Get the referrals on your own. Check them out through the Better Business Bureau. Call your local Police Department to see if they’ve had any complaints on these individuals. If anything sounds suspicious, if anything tells you it is wrong, then it probably is. You need to listen to it.”
The victim told CBS4 that she has learned a lesson. “Check the guy that is supposed to do the work,” she said. “Make sure they are licensed and insured.”
She hopes her story will raise awareness about these issues and hopes she can get her money back.
While BSO is warning the public about the two men, authorities say there is no probable cause to arrest them.
CBS4 placed phone calls to the numbers listed in the BSO Event report. He was not able to reach Goodwin, but George Scott called him back and said that he was hoping to pay the victim back with a cashier’s check for $1100.
At first Scott said he would meet with D’Oench for an interview but then said he could not.
Scott said that he wanted to help the victim and said, “I’ve been working my whole life.”
The BSO Event Report says that “the subject cut hedges and put mulch down, but it is unknown what he actually did do for her and what if anything was actually needed.”
The report says Scott has a suspended license and an active warrant for driving license revoked.
“I know the police may be looking for me because of that warrant,” Scott said, “but that has nothing to do with my work.”