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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Disabled man charged with scamming 11 people hoping to buy pontoon boat trailers

Steven Ronald Strickland
Steven Ronald Strickland

A Lake County Sheriff’s Office detective tracked down a man who was was allegedly operating a pontoon boat trailer scam.

The detective’s investigation revealed that 61-year-old Steven Ronald Strickland had been operating a systemic, on-going pattern of activity where he used social media, including Facebook Market Place and Craig’s List, to solicit deposits for the construction of pontoon boat trailers in Leesburg. Strickland collected deposits from 2018 through 2022 at 101 East Stirling Way in Leesburg, according to the affidavit of probable cause prepared by the detective.

Eleven victims of the scam were interviewed. Each victim told the detective a similar version of their experiences with Strickland. They each gave a deposit of between $900 to $1,100 and received a handwritten receipt. The victims made repeated requests for their money back before contacting law enforcement. Two victims were able to recover their deposits from Strickland in 2021 after being deprived of the funds for several months.

Strickland told the victims that the delays in completing the trailers were due to supply chain problems and personal illness. He would then cease to respond to the victims.

When the detective interviewed Strickland, he noted in his affidavit that Strickland had no criminal history and appeared to be disabled due to recurring medical issues which required hospitalizations.  Strickland has limited mobility and has a live-in care taker to helps him with daily care.

Strickland was taken into custody at the Inn On The Green in Tavares and was transported to the Lake County Jail where he was charged with scheming to defraud and 11 counts of grand theft. Due to his medical condition he was released on his own recognizance.

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