Fraud ring busted, leader operated while in prison

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 19:18:24-05

POLK COUNTY — There are a couple things wrong with this phone call.

The man calling a bank about his business account is not who he says he is and he’s calling from inside a prison.

“Thank you for calling credit services, my name is Tammy. Can I have your name please?”

“Tammy, how are you, my name is Eduardo Tapia.”

“Is it a commercial account?”
“Yes it is.?

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says Bobby Staley made that call and is a long time felon who was operating a state-wide fraud ring while serving prison time in a Liberty County prison.

According to investigators, Staley and his crew ripped off companies in Lakeland and Clearwater for more than $100,000.

They say Staley would call banks on prison lines and smuggled cell phones.

And while posing as the business owners, he’d get the account information switched to a different address.

From there the thieves used the company’s credit to buy gift cards and other items.

The sheriff’s office says surveillance video shows some of those fraudulent purchases going down at Lowe’s.

The company that got hit the hardest is Tapia Construction in Lakeland.

The thieves managed to charge more than $90,000 to their business accounts.

The owners here say they are just glad it’s finally over.

“They don’t use a gun. They don’t use a knife. They don’t use violence. They use credit cards and people’s identity that they assume and they have a lot of charisma and personality. And heck, Bob Stanley has a lot of experience,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The Polk County sheriff’s office says they are after two other members of the ring including Staley’s 18-year-old daughter.