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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

News Date: 2/8/2010 

 Traveling Scam Artists Preying On Elderly Victims Caught in North Lakeland  

  Suspect Battered 89-year-old Lakeland Woman 

Polk County Sheriff’s deputies, working with prosecutors from the State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit, successfully apprehended two “traveling scam artists” known to have victimized several elderly people in Florida and other states. Thanks to quick action by law enforcement, the suspects are now being held under no bond in the Polk County Jail.

The investigation began on February 3, 2010, when Daniel Thomas Cooper, DOB 8/24/76, who has a multi-state criminal history, forced his way into the home of an 89-year-old female victim in north Lakeland and told her he would fine her $600 if she did not pay him to fix leaks in her roof (which didn’t need any repairs). The victim, in fear for her life, attempted to call her son – Cooper forcefully took the phone away from her and hung it up. The victim’s son, who lives in Georgia, saw that his mother had called and hung up, so he called back, and Cooper again forcefully took the phone away and refused to allow the victim to answer it. Cooper instead spoke to the victim’s son himself and tried to convince him that the victim was okay and he was just there in the home trying to get directions because he was lost. After hanging up the phone, Cooper left the scene with his accomplice.

The victim’s son, fearing for his mother’s well-being, called back again and this time spoke to his mother and told her to call 911. Within minutes, Polk County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on-scene.

Deputies quickly located Danny Cooper, and an accomplice, Richard Norman Squires, DOB 11/8/59, of Pennsylvania, near the victim’s home. Cooper told the deputies that he was driving around the neighborhood trying to answer an advertisement for an RV for sale. However, the victim positively identified Cooper as the suspect who had forced his way into her home and battered her. Cooper was placed under arrest and charged with Burglary with Assault (F-1); Battery on Person Over 65 (F-3); and Theft From Person Over 65 (F-3). He is being held under no bond. Cooper has an extensive multi-state criminal history of scams against the elderly involving unlicensed repairs, in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio.

Cooper, who lives in Arkansas and travels the U.S. with other traveling scam artists, is staying in a hotel in Kissimmee. Deputies retrieved Cooper’s vehicle from a nearby tow yard and located from within it the Garmin GPS system Cooper used to find the victim’s home. The GPS device listed all of the places Cooper and Squires had recently visited. The investigation is ongoing.

Squires was also arrested and charged with Giving False Name to LEO, and Out of County Warrant (Lake County).

“If either of these suspects has approached you or tried to bully you into giving them money for needless repairs to your home, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately,” says Sheriff Grady Judd. “Scam artists like these will stop at nothing to get your hard-earned cash. They use intimidation, fear, and even physical violence, and they must be stopped.”

If you have information about Daniel Cooper or Richard Squires or feel you have been a victim of any type of home repair scam, please contact Detective Gordon Opitz at 863-297-3101.