3 handymen swindle 90-year-old Ga. woman out of $118,000 in life savings, police say

FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. — Three men have been charged in Floyd County for allegedly stealing money from a 90-year-old Armuchee woman.

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Police said that Robert John Criswell, 39, of Lindale; Kyle Dewayne Dover, 28, of Cedartown; and Hunter Chase Hammitt, 23, of Kingston met the victim while were working for a local tree company. They were working on their own when they allegedly committed the crime.

During the months of December and April, investigators said the victim wrote 33 checks to each man for various amounts for tree work they were supposed to do on her property. The checks totaled $118,000, investigators said.

The men did complete some tree work, but on those occasions, the trees were left in place, and small bush piles were left on the property.

Shutters that were intended to be hung were barely attached, and in some cases, were hanging crooked by one screw, the report stated.


Investigators followed up on a tip and found the trio near Johns Mountain at a creek-side campsite.

Police believed the suspects were living in the camp, just 10 minutes from the victim’s home. The three suspects were arrested on Wednesday at the site.

Criswell and Dover are facing charges of exploitation of the elderly and theft by deception. Hammitt is charged with exploitation of the elderly, theft by deception and probation violation.

Criswell and Dover are being held on a $15,000 bond. Kingston is being held with no bond.

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The department says scams of this type are not uncommon.

“Trailers filled with pine straw, rogue tree surgeons and traveling paving companies will often exaggerate damage and embellish their skill level to give hope to victims who might only need small repairs,” investigators said. “In return for little or no work being done, these scammers often drive away with small fortunes.”

Police said the elderly are sometimes embarrassed by the spending or intimidated by the persistent and aggressive sales techniques of scammers.

They encourage families and neighbors to check in with older relatives and neighbors to ensure they are not being swindled or victimized by scammers and to be aware of visits by service technicians or home improvement companies going to an elderly person’s home.