SUWANEE, Ga. — A man who promised to help women in recovery from their addictions is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from more than a dozen people across metro Atlanta, according to police.
Aaron Hayes, 53, is charged with six counts of felony theft by deception and is currently in the Gwinnett County Jail. Suwanee police are currently investigating 11 other cases after more victims came forward and more charges are possible, according to police.
“I really thought he was a good guy,” said Kelly Meadows, who was referred to Hayes through church. “There were two different girls that got vehicles from him. So it seemed legit to me.”
She told Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson that Hayes operated what he advertised as a nonprofit called “Wheels N Recovery” out of a mechanic’s bay on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Suwanee.
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
He told potential clients “your recovery is your credit” on the path to owning a car. Clients would pay him thousands of dollars upfront and then make low monthly payments until the car was paid off. However, police say Hayes never delivered on many of his promises.
“I believed him because he was helping girls in recovery,” said Meadows.
Meadows, a mother of two, said she sent Hayes $2,000 in July when she saved up enough money after leaving rehab. By November, she said all she had were excuses.
“He said he would refund me in seven to ten days,” she said. “Then after that, with no refund, that’s when stuff started getting shady.”
It turns out Suwanee police learned of 17 people with similar stories during their investigation.
- Mama June and family going on ‘last family trip’ with daughter amid cancer battle
- Protester sets self on fire outside Midtown building, leaving 2 injured, police say
- Homicide charges dropped against medical van driver accused of killing 2 in crash
Hayes was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail on Wednesday after authorities in Florida took him into custody earlier this month.
“I hope he gets better but he’s got to pay,” said Lynn Adams, Meadows’s mother. “He’s got to pay for what he did and for the money he took from people.”
Meadows says she’s borrowing her mother’s car while trying to save up for her own again. Her family has started a GoFundMe to help her get back on her feet.
She hopes no one else falls victim like she did.
“It’s affected not only us,” she said, “but the families of the victims too.”
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
IN OTHER NEWS:
©2023 Cox Media Group