A recently fired exterminator went to customers he previously served and duped them by persuading them they had colonies of termites infesting their homes, authorities said.
He lured them into signing lucrative contracts and would cash the checks and pocket the money, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Luis Angel Roman, 41, of 10524 Parkside St. in Spring Hill, was booked shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday at the Hernando County Jail on two counts of grand theft.
He was released hours later after posting $4,000 bail.
Roman had worked for A-1 Pest Control out of Brooksville for years before he was let go in July, deputies said.
Afterward, he contacted A-1 customers and sold them the expensive contracts based on false claims of termite infestations, according to a news release.
Denise Moloney, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said Roman "continued representing the company (customers) already knew and trusted," so that made it easy for the suspect to continue the ruse.
None of the customers knew he had been fired, she said.
A message left with an A-1 manager was not returned Friday.
Roman's plan unraveled after a relative of one of the customers, who was visiting from out of town, questioned a contract the suspect had written for fungi removal, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies said the suspicious relative searched the house and found no fungi. He contacted A-1 and was told Roman was fired.
The customer contacted the sheriff's office and an investigation was opened.
Several customers identified Roman from a photo pack and an arrest warrant was issued shortly thereafter, deputies said.
The lead detective in the case recently came upon another scam involving Roman and additional charges are forthcoming, according to the sheriff's office.
Deputies are asking anyone else who might have been scammed to call Detective Irene Gray at (352) 797-3718 or email her at email@example.com.