September 16, 2004
A 48-year-old Gilbert resident accused of bilking close to $1 million from California business owners was arrested Tuesday in Chandler, and Mesa police believe he may have been running a scam in that city.
According to police, Vance R. Lloyd pretended to be a member of high school booster clubs and sold hundreds of fraudulent advertisements to business owners in the Fresno, Calif., area. He told them the ads, which ranged in price from $100 to $185, would appear in athletic programs, calendars, fliers and newsletters.
"He was really good," said Clovis Police Department detective Tommy Harris. "One person told me that he could sell you your own shoes — right off your feet."
Clovis police learned about the scam when Lloyd started bouncing checks, Harris said. The detective subpoenaed bank records for three months and learned more than 100 businesses had purchased ads from Lloyd to the tune of $10,000.
Several businesses in and around Clovis paid for the ads with cash, and authorities speculate Lloyd may have gotten as much as $1 million, Harris said.
Harris contacted Mesa detectives last month after learning Lloyd made deposits in California from a Mesa bank and may have moved to the area.
Mesa fraud detectives believe Lloyd approached at least two Mesa businesses with "booster club" fliers from Mesa, Red Mountain, Mountain View and Skyline high schools and tried to sell ads that would appear in athletic programs, said Mesa Sgt. Chuck Trapani.
Lloyd successfully sold one ad, Trapani said.
Lloyd was arrested Tuesday on a California warrant at a Chandler mailbox company, 610 N. Alma School Road, Trapani said. Detectives believe Lloyd may not have been acting alone and that there may be additional victims.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Mesa Police Department at (480) 644-2638 and leave their name, business name, dollar lost amount and a callback number. Anyone who is worried about the authenticity of a school fundraising program can call the Mesa Unified School District at (480) 472-0223.