PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Pinellas County deputies arrested 44-year-old Ronald Vanwie Jr. for forcing his way into an 85-year-old’s home and pressuring her to buy packages of meat.
“Every time I would say no he would get more and more angry you know,” said Shirley McGathey.
Deputies said Shirley McGathey was getting her mail when the man first approached her. She told him she wasn’t interested in buying anything, but he didn’t take no for an answer.
“I didn’t know he followed me up the ramp and I come in the house and he came into my house,” said McGathey.
McGathy said she wrote the man a check for $200 to get him to leave. He left her meat in her freezer, but she tossed it.
“I handed him a check and he’s still angry. He says now I have to cash this,” said McGathey.
Pinellas County deputies also arrested Andrew Tsaffaras and Erick Harmon for pressuring other victim’s to buy meat.
The men worked for Gourmet Grocery, LLC.
Vanwie is facing charges of robbery, burglary and theft from a person 65 years or older.
“Take some kind of action so they don’t follow you up and get into your home,” said McGathey.
Just two weeks ago, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office was warning its residents about the same meat scam targeting the elderly. They warn that the salesmen force their way into the homes. Once inside the homes, the "salesman" tries to sell the elderly residents various food products, usually meat or fish and when the resident refuses to buy the products, the salesman proceeds to stock the resident's freezer with the products and then demands money.
Sheriff Al Nienhuis says "the elderly population is often easily intimidated and agrees to pay for the product."