Local News

Apex Police Seek Alleged Advertising Scammer

Posted October 6, 2007 1:19 a.m. EDT

— Apex police were searching Friday for a woman wanted in an advertising scam. Detectives said the suspect targeted small businesses.

Apex business owners lost more than $1,700 in the fraud scheme. Investigators said there may be more victims out there.

As a relatively new business in downtown Apex, the owner of My Girlfriend's Closet was eager to spread the word about her consignment boutique. So when Kristal Hill walked in selling advertising, Lois Cozart was sold.

Hill said she was selling advertising for a take-out menu for the Peak City Grill, a restaurant many people in the small town are familiar with, Cozart said.

“I thought, what a great connection. I would love to be affiliated with Peak City Grill and their market, so I said, ‘Sure,’” Cozart said.

She wrote Hill a check for $247.

“I noticed right away that my check had cleared right away, and I thought, that’s kind of strange, because normally, you don’t go right to the bank,’” she said.

A bit suspicious, Cozart did a Google search on Hill. She found an article from the Mooresville Tribune warning businesses in that area about an advertising scam with Kristal Hill named as the main suspect.

Hill had already been charged in Greensboro and Asheboro for similar crimes.

“She never produced the take-out menu, so our assumption is she just converted the money to her own personal use,” said Apex Police Detective Joseph Best.

Five downtown businesses, including the Rusty Bucket and Laura Kelly Licensing, paid Hill hundreds of dollars for advertising that they never saw.

“You really do feel taken advantage of,” Cozart said.

Apex police said investigators in Johnston County are looking into similar cases involving Hill.