Couple indicted for cheating at-risk, older Coloradans in wide-ranging tree-trimming scam
Feb. 8, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that the statewide grand jury indicted a couple on 51 counts for allegedly operating a criminal tree-trimming scam that targeted older Coloradans in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, El Paso, Jefferson, and Otero counties from at least February 2020 until October 2022.
Joseph Camillo Tyler and Amelia Marie Tyler are accused of repeatedly using deceptive tactics to commit or conspire to commit financial fraud on vulnerable older Coloradans, including many who were over 80 years old. According to the grand jury indictment, the husband-wife team would show up at a residence to solicit tree-trimming or home-repair services for a set amount of money. Sometimes the homeowner paid in cash, but more often, they paid by check. The wife would then cash the check at the homeowner’s bank while the husband cut a few branches at the victim’s home. After cashing the check, the wife would return to pick up the husband before he completed most of the job. The defendants would then tell the homeowner that they needed to get something and would be back, but they rarely returned to the jobsite. At least 50 individuals were victims of the tree-trimming scam.
“The members of this alleged criminal enterprise took hundreds of dollars from each victim they scammed, for a total of approximately $40,000. Working in partnership with the hardworking team at the Arvada Police Department, we were able to stop this widespread organized tree-trimming fraud,” Weiser said. “Our office remains committed to ensuring that individuals who commit financial crimes against older Coloradans are held fully responsible for their actions.”
The Arvada Police Department, which led the investigation into the criminal ring, arrested the defendants in October of 2022 for crimes connected to the pattern of racketeering activity alleged in the indictment.
“These types of predatory actions against some of the most vulnerable members of our communities will not be tolerated. To steal from people who have saved a lifetime to live out their golden years is appalling. We appreciate the hard work our detectives committed to this case and are thankful for a swift indictment,” said Chief Ed Brady, Arvada Police Department.
The charges against the defendants include two counts of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class 2 felony, and various felony counts of theft, conspiracy to commit theft, aggravated motor-vehicle theft, and criminal exploitation of an at-risk person.
The defendants are in the custody of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Attorneys from the attorney general’s Special Prosecutions Unit will prosecute the case, which is filed in Jefferson County District Court. The case numbers are Joseph Camillo Tyler, 2023CR327 and Amelia Marie Tyler, 2023CR328.
A grand jury indictment is merely a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime under Colorado laws. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Older Coloradans are frequently targeted by scammers with schemes that can cause financial harm, including the loss of one’s retirement savings and potentially even their home. AARP ElderWatch Colorado is a program with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and AARP whose mission is to fight the financial exploitation of older Coloradans through education and outreach, data collection, and the providing of assistance. Please visit the AARP Elderwatch website for additional information on how to recognize, refuse and report fraud and scams. Report fraud or scams by calling 1-800-222-4444 or filing a complaint at www.StopFraudColorado.gov.