Island Coast High among victims listed in fraud case
A local woman is accused of stealing more than $5,000 from Island Coast High School for a solar powered filtration system that was never installed.
Angela M. Moore, 42, of 2425 Daniel Ave., Lehigh Acres, was arrested and charged Wednesday with various counts of fraud and larceny and one count of operating as a real estate broker without a license. According to reports from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, she was charged in connected to two unrelated cases.
“We made a deposit to purchase materials for our aquatics lab, some solar equipment, and the products were never delivered,” said Island Coast High School Principal Dr. G. Peter Bohatch. “It wasn’t just one deposit.”
According to the reports, Moore drew up a contract with Island Coast High School through her business, Home Design Consultants, to provide parts and materials to build the filtration system for the lab’s fish. The contract was for $5,000 in solar tiles and equipment. Moore received two $2,500 checks, and a $300 check for a chain link fence, in October and November 2008.
In March 2009, Moore had not delivered the items and Bohatch wrote a letter to Home Design Consultants requesting a refund. Moore provided the school with a name and number to fax the request to, but the company did not know Home Design Consultants and did not have an employee by the name Moore had given.
“We were never able to make contact with the owner of the company, Ms. Moore,” Bohatch said. “We were still hoping the product would arrive, and then we were notified by the sheriff’s department.”
The LCSO was investigating a complaint, coming from the Office of the Attorney General, in which Jared Hansman of New York won an online home auction bid in June 2008. After wiring $8,020 to the seller, Moore, Hansman was unable to reach her to obtain his warranty or property deed, according to the reports.
Detectives began an investigation and learned Moore, operating as Home Design Consultants, had participated in fraudulent real estate activity. Thereports state that she collected a total of $63,802 from five online victims, including Matthew Mapes of California, Doris Swank of Texas, Edwin
Garces of California and Robert Taylor of Scotland.
Detectives also learned of the money she received from the school.
Moore faces one felony count of fraud swindle obtain property $50,000 ormore, one felony count of larceny $20,000 to less than $100,000 and one felony count of operating as an unlicensed real estate broker or salesman for the allegations involving the online real estate fraud and school.
In March 2009, while investigating the online home auctions, detectives received a fraud complaint involving a job fair advertised online by Moore. The reports state that Moore gave a presentation in February 2009 about jobs that would soon be available with Home Design Consultants.
Potential employees were required to pay $10 for the purchase of a Magic Jack, according to the reports. Several individuals came forward and stated that they had attended the job fair, but never received their Magic Jacks and were never hired. Many were concerned because Moore had their personal information, collected during the job fair.
The reports state that three of the participants were hired and each received more than $700 in paychecks. All of their paychecks bounced because they were drawn from a non-existent account. There were 12 victims tied to the job fair with the total theft valued at $2,969.37, officials said.
Moore was charged with one misdemeanor count of petit larceny, one felony count of fraud swindle obtain property under $20,000, one felony count of fraud utter false bank bill note check draft and one felony count of larceny theft $300 or more but less than $5,000 in connection to the job fair.
Moore was taken Wednesday to the Lee County Jail. According to booking records, she was released on $13,000 bond Thursday morning. Moore’s next court date is set for March 8.
There is no telephone number listed for Moore or her home address.
According to Bohatch, Island Coast High School is seeking restitution.
“It set the program back a few months,” he said. “We were unable to set up … the aquatic labs planned for the exterior.”
Bohatch said the students held fund-raisers to replace the missing money, and the project is “back on track.” They did everything from sell candy bars to hold bake sales. Students also participated in a mangrove restoration and sold staghorn plants to raise funds.
“There did a lot of creative things,” he said. “They were able to recoup the money very quickly.”
Still, Bohatch called the incident unnecessary.
“We’re a new school. Absolutely, we were disappointed. It’s unfortunate,” he said. “But it occurred, the kids are resilient and we’re moving forward.”