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Criminal Mischief - (01-20-2016)

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Ervin Morrison III Ervin Morrison III Courtesy of Maine Public Safety

Maine man defrauds victims for hundreds of thousands of dollars

LISBON Maine State and Brunswick Police say a young Chelsea man suspected of bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars for items and services never delivered was arrested recently in Lisbon.

Ervin Morrison III, 23, was tracked down of a home on Memorial Street in Lisbon and taken into custody without incident. Police have been looking for Morrison since last summer after receiving several complaints of services or products solicited on Craigslist that were never delivered. Trooper Christopher Rogers said two Maine companies lost $132,000 in the swindle and expected the total losses in Maine will total $250,000. That number is expected to double, as additional complaints come in from out of state. A Florida man reported he lost $140,000 to Morrison in an investment scheme, and a woman in North Carolina said she paid Morrison $25,000 last week in the same scheme, but changed her mind and stopped payment before the check was cashed.

Among the charges Morrison is being held on is theft by deception, theft by unauthorized taking and a number of motor vehicle violations, including operating a motor vehicle after his license had been revoked. He made his first appearance in Kennebec Court in Augusta yesterday and several other courts will be involved in the additional charges he faces.

The arrest warrants issued for Morrison are from several police agencies in Maine and Massachusetts. Morrison was believed to have fled the state last year, but recently information from Oxford Police showed that Morrison was back in Maine.

Morrison was arrested Wednesday by a team of Troopers and officers and detectives from Lisbon and Brunswick Police. Morrison is currently being held at the Kennebec County Jail on $1,000 cash bail, but the bail is expected to be increased as he appears in several other courts in Maine.

Investigators say the majority of the Morrison's schemes on Craigslist involved sales of firewood, wood pellets, logging, home repair, earthwork, vehicle transportation, real estate and investments. There is no indication he delivered on any of them. Investigators say anyone who thinks they may have been been a victim of Morrison should contact State Police - Troop D in Augusta at (207) 624-8947.

Meth lab in Windham busted

WINDHAM The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and Windham Police announced the arrest of a couple from Gray for unlawful operation of a methamphetamine laboratory, the state's first for 2016. Maine ended 2015 with 56 meth lab incidents.

Being held at the Cumberland County Jail are 46-year-old Charles McNeice and 33-year-old Nicole Adams, both from Gray.

On Jan. 11, Windham Police were called to the area of 23 Tower Road in Windham for a report of a suspicious vehicle. Officers located the vehicle and then found a box near it that contained the items needed to manufacture methamphetamine.

Members of the MDEA Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team responded to assist Windham Police at the scene. Additional items needed in the manufacturing process were located in the vehicle, ammonium nitrate and pseudoephedrine tablets. The investigation showed that McNeice and Adams had purchased the items a short time before they were discovered by officers and that McNeice was preparing to begin the process to convert the items into methamphetamine.

McNeice was also charged last year with a meth lab incident in Oxford and had been out on bail from that previous charge.

Skimmers pinched

MAINE Maine State Police initiated an investigation on 'skimmed' debit and bank account information from financial institutions in and around southern Maine. Troopers Matt Grant and Jarod Stedman learned of fraudulent purchases made in Dover, Dexter, Guilford and Milo. They spent the next four days investigating transaction records, surveillance video, store employee information and other sources to track and identify the suspects, Ariel Perez-Calvo and Roberto Rodriguez, both from Miami, Fla.

The suspects used the stolen bank information to create fictitious debit cards and make purchases throughout Maine at Rite Aid, Walgreens and Hannaford stores, among others. The purchases generally were prepaid Visa cards. Troopers tracked the two to Portland on Jan. 13, where Perez was arrested waiting to board a flight back to Miami at the Jetport and Rodriguez was arrested at a hotel in the Old Port.

The investigation is continuing to determine the full extent of scam but likely tens of thousands of dollars were involved from credit and debit cards issued several Maine banks and credit unions. State Police urge account holders to check their banking statements for any fraudulent transactions involving purchases of $300-$450 at Rite Aid, Hannaford, or Walgreens retailers between 1/7 and 1/13. If suspect charges are found on your account contact your financial institution to report the theft.

State Police were assisted by the Portland Police Department, Brewer Police Department, Dover Police Department and Immigration Customs Enforcement.

If anybody has information in relation to this, please contact Matt Grant or Jarod Stedman at the State Police barracks in Bangor at (207) 973-3700.

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