Authorities arrested a man accused of scamming a woman into paying him for roof repair and bolting with the money without doing any work.
Detectives said it's possible the suspect could have targeted more people in Hernando County.
Leonard Lovell, 42, who has a criminal history in three other states, was arrested this week in connection with the scam. He remained in custody in Alabama as of Thursday afternoon, deputies said.
On Jan. 12, an 88-year-old woman who lives in the area of U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, answered a knock on her door and encountered Lovell, who was soliciting roof work, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
The suspect told the woman her roof needed fixing and he would do it for about $70. She agreed and two men – including Lovell – returned to the house later to do the job. One got on the roof and the other spoke with the woman, presumably to distract her, deputies said.
A short time later, both suspects told the woman the job would cost $321. The woman felt "pressured" and she paid Lovell, according to the sheriff's office.
The check was cashed almost immediately and the men didn't return, deputies said.
The woman's son came to her house later and noticed the men didn't perform any work at all.
This type of ruse is called a "gypsy scam" because it is carried out by suspects from out of state, according to the sheriff's office. They target seniors and solicit different kinds of home-improvement work.
The man who accompanied Lovell might be related to him, but the sheriff's office is still trying to identify him, said Detective Dustin Mormando.
The victim described the second suspect as a white male with blonde hair.
Deputies said the case remains active.
Anyone with information about Lovell is asked to call Mormando at 352-797-3728 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.