71-year-old Lutz woman scammed and robbed by fake tree trimmers

Posted at 2:23 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-08 18:23:59-04

LUTZ, Fla. — A 71-year-old Lutz woman says three men stole hundreds of dollars from her home, after one lured her to the backyard offering tree services.

Jean didn’t want to identify herself out of fear the men would come back. She says on Monday two of the men, who were in their mid 20’s or 30’s, knocked on her door asking if she’d come to the side of her home to look at a tree. 

They said they specialized in tree services and noticed a tree that needed to be cut back.

“He was mentioning my neighbor who had been doing work and yes that was true. Without thinking, I went outside so he could show me the tree,” Jean said. “I said, no I wanted to come back in because he kept trying to get me to go further to the second part of my property."

Only about 4 minutes had passed, but Jean decided she wanted to go back to the house. 

“He kept using his phone in his pocket. Basically, that was to tell the other guy, hey she’s coming back in, evidently.” 

When she got back to the house she went inside and straight to her bedroom and noticed cash from her purse was gone. She also saw the drawers where she keeps her jewelry were open.

"They got a few pieces, sentimental pieces. They aren’t worth all that much,” she said.  

She grabbed her phone and headed back outside. At that point, she says the men were still there. She walked up to their vehicle, which she says was a maroon mini-van, and attempted to get a picture of the license plate.

“I pulled the hatch down so I could try and get a picture of the tag and it wasn’t a real license plate. It looked like something they printed or a temporary tag,” she said. “It did say Texas but it was in the corner, and it definitely wasn’t a metal plate.” 

She then tried to get a picture of the men in the van and says one of them told her not to take a picture because it was, “illegal.” She tried anyway, and he snatched the phone from her hand, threw it between the front seats and put the car into drive. Jean says her arm and hand were still inside the van which were scraped and bruised when they left.

“Don’t open your door to anybody at all, if you don’t know them don’t do it. No matter what they say to you. If they don’t leave, just say I’m calling the cops,” Jean said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office report says Jean estimates the cash and jewelry totaled about $500 dollars.

Deputies came out and took a report. They are looking for the men right now. They suggest investing in cheap security cameras and if you’re ever unsure about someone at your door, call law enforcement.