Local News

10 busted in statewide sting targeting those who con elderly

Posted July 29, 2013

— North Carolina's attorney general said Monday that 10 people have been charged in a statewide campaign, called Operation Nail It, that's aimed at helping protect elderly people from fraud and con artists.

Richard Collin Bullock Photos: 'Operation Nail It' suspects

Attorney General Roy Cooper, joined by Tammy Smith, a financial crimes prosecutor with the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, and Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, said during a news conference Monday afternoon that those arrested face more than 90 counts of conspiracy and exploitation charges stemming from crimes involving 6 to 10 victims in Wake, Wilson and Alamance counties.

"Con artists who prey on seniors have to be stopped, and this is an important step toward that goal," Cooper said.

The average age of the victims was 85 years old, and many of the cases involved scam artists pretending to be contractors who generally would approach their targets to perform a general task, such as cleaning gutters, and then later tell them about a more serious problem "discovered" during their work.

In some cases, Cooper said, the alleged con artists worked in groups, moved to different areas and sometimes traded names of victims.

"We believe that, although there are a number of victims identified, this group probably has a lot more victims we don't know about yet," he said.

Those charged are:

  • Richard Collin Bullock, of Rocky Mount, on one count (Raleigh Police Department)
  • Brian Davis, of Rocky Mount, on four counts (Raleigh Police Department)
  • William Kenneth Ferrell, of Rocky Mount, on three counts (Cary Police Department)
  • Christopher David Fountain, of Rocky Mount, on 12 charges (Burlington Police Department and Cary Police Department)
  • Larry Martin House Jr., of Rocky Mount, on six counts (Cary Police Department)
  • Randall Lee Joyner, of Rocky Mount, on 57 counts (Cary Police Department)
  • Brandon David Peele, of Salter Path, on one count (Raleigh Police Department)
  • Brandon M. Pollard, of Rocky Mount, on one count (Raleigh Police Department)
  • Robert Thomas Privette, of Rocky Mount, on three charges (Cary Police Department)
  • Michael Bryan Strickland, of Rocky Mount, on nine counts (Burlington Police Department)

Possible job scams can be reported to the North Carolina Department of Justice's Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint on the department's website.

Senior citizens are usually easy targets for con artists because they tend to me more trusting, have money saved and often suffer from some kind of memory problem, Cooper said.

"These victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars," said Willoughby. "They've been robbed of their savings and their dignities, and many of them don't know they've been victimized until someone points it out to them."

Smith, who heads the Financial Crimes Initative for the Conference of District Attorneys, said Americans over age 65 are robbed of an estimated $2.9 billion a year through financial fraud and that crime against them is on the rise in North Carolina. In 2012, she said, there were 10 times more reported cases than in 2006.

Her team, which consists of four other prosecutors, assists district attorneys across the state in prosecuting such cases, which are often complex.

"This operation is a shining example of successful cooperation that has resulted in a step toward justice not only for these victims but future victims," Smith said of the joint efforts of local and state law enforcement in Operation Nail It. "Financial fraud, such as this, against our state's most vulnerable victims, the seniors, is our top priority."


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  • ncouterbanks69 Jul 31, 2013

    "Ten busted and nine from Rocky Mount. Does anything positive come out of the colon of NC?"

    That would be durham although Duke is a great hospital so something good does come from the colon of NC.

  • Vote for Pedro Jul 30, 2013

    Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you"! simplemind2

    It's actually fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

    Or as W would say, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...errr....can't fool me twice, he he he".

  • trueblue0100 Jul 30, 2013

    Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you"!

    It's actually fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

  • so you dont like my opinion ok Jul 30, 2013

    airbornemonty, i hope they get nailed for this one...

  • 4DukeTillDeath Jul 30, 2013

    Ten busted and nine from Rocky Mount. Does anything positive come out of the colon of NC?

  • Baybee Doll Jul 29, 2013


  • martineer Jul 29, 2013

    I know one of them as well. He has been running this home "repair" scam for years, been getting caught, then slapped on the wrist so he can continue. He will tell you what you want to hear so he can get what he wants. Glad I saw through him early. He has not been allowed on my property for years. Also, he is a very severe heroin addict. I hope he never sees the light of day again unless looking through bars.

  • simplemind2 Jul 29, 2013

    froggygirl July 29, 2013 6:40 p.m. - "...sometimes there is another side." For my side - I keep evidence and they all are hard-copies (paper) or E-mails.

  • froggygirl Jul 29, 2013

    Interesting point from sail4me. Much as I hate elder fraud, sometimes there is another side. I know a guy who no longer does odd jobs for oldsters. Some promise to pay later and then claim no memory of the promise or else claim that they already did pay and act outraged. It got too risky, and he's an honest man.

  • airbornemonty Jul 29, 2013

    Okay, they were caught scamming the elderly. Now how much prison time will each con artist get?
    And please don't tell me they will get probation and community service.