WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - A Lakeland man is in jail after police say he took advantage of a vulnerable adult.
According to the arrest report, 31-year-old Christopher Scarlett befriended a man riding Citrus Connection with him.
"I thought he was a good friend of mine but he wasn't," the victim, who will remain nameless, said.
The victim has special needs and has even recently been in hospice care.
"I looked at his phone and saw a text message from this guy named Chris saying you have to give me money 50 or $60 and Kim says she loves you," Donna Urbina, the victim's mother said.
Now, he’s facing eviction after Scarlett exploited the victim into giving him at least $1,045. This money was designated specifically for the victim’s rent.
"He had plenty of money to pay his bills so I didn't understand what was going on," she said.
However, according to text messages obtained from the victim’s phone, there were messages from the suspect both threatening and promising the victim a girlfriend if he would hand over cash.
"I think he was more fearful of not having a friend then understanding you don’t give a friend money," his mother said.
The victim’s mother found out when the rent could not be paid for the victim’s apartment.
Later, she found out her son was severely past due on his rent and may now have to move out.
"I was distraught because it was $1675 that we didn’t have," Donna Urbina said.
The victim told police, Scarlett gained his trust over the past two years but ultimately took advantage of him.
"I didn't like to ride the bus because I knew Chris was going to be there," the victim said.
Over several months, the suspects learned when the victim would be paid through his part time job at Steak ’n Shake as a dishwasher.
At one point, the victim didn't have money available to give to Scarlett and he threatened to kill the victim if he didn't get money. Although Scarlett never physically harmed the victim, it was extremely scary and upsetting to the victim who told detectives the threats "hurt his feelings."
"I think he has to be the lowest life on this planet," Urbina said.
Detectives were able to identify and make contact with Scarlett who agreed to an interview. Ultimately, Scarlett acknowledged that he received money from the victim and that he was aware of the disabilities the victim has and yet continued to demand money.