SPRING HILL — Allen Rhyndress offered Hernando County businesses a little peace of mind by agreeing to inspect their fire extinguishers in exchange for cash.
The problem: Rhyndress wasn't certified to do so.
On Tuesday, the 50-year-old Hudson man was arrested and charged with four counts of organized fraud.
A Hernando Sheriff's Office report gives this account:
On Nov. 30, Rhyndress walked into Fantastic Sam's on Linden Drive and offered to visually inspect the fire extinguishers for $20. He looked them over, took the cash and gave the manager a handwritten receipt, The manager called the business' regular inspector and learned that Rhyndress did not work for the company.
Rhyndress did the same thing four days later at the Internet Cafe on Forest Oaks Boulevard, the Lucky Duck II on U.S. 19, and the Gold on Anderson Snow Road, collecting a total of $325 from the businesses. The owner of the Lucky Duck II and the Gold also realized that Rhyndress was a fraud after contacting her regular inspector.
When Rhyndress returned to the Gold on Tuesday, this time as a customer, the owner called the Sheriff's Office.
Rhyndress told a detective he thought he was allowed to provide visual inspections of extinguishers "as long as he didn't alter them in any way," a report says. He said he wasn't aware that he needed to be certified and said he was doing the work to help his sick mother.
Rhyndress admitted doing inspections at only those four businesses, but investigators suspect there may have been others.
Anyone who suspects he or she might be a victim is asked to contact Detective Robert Desmond at (352) 797-3868 or firstname.lastname@example.org.