N. Augusta pair busted by Va. town fed up with scammers

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 3:30 PM EST
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HILLSVILLE, Va. (WRDW/WAGT) - A pair of men from North Augusta were arrested in Virginia, where they were claiming to be driveway sealers, according to police.

An investigator with the Hillsville Police Department confirmed they were members of the North Augusta community known as Irish travelers.

Investigator Alan Gravley said authorities arrested Brandon Jude Riley, 41, and his nephew Tommy Chad Carroll, 28.

They face charges including failing to purchase a town door-to-door sales license, obstruction of justice, possession of methamphetamine and possession of naloxone without a prescription. Naloxone is the opioid remedy that’s often sold under the brand name Narcan.

Police said tips from two members of the public alerted officers to the pair.

An estimated 10,000 people in the United States are descendants of nomads who left Ireland in the 1800s. The largest population of about 2,500 lives in the North Augusta area.

Town takes action against scammers

Gravley said Hillsville has frequent problems with people traveling to the area and trying to scam primarily older people out of money on supposed home improvement projects.

In this case, Gravley said Riley and Carroll were going house to house claiming to have a load of hot tar left over from a previous job and saying they could use it to quickly and inexpensively seal driveways.

“Guess what? They didn’t have any hot tar,” Gravley said.

He checked the back of the pickup where a piece of equipment supposedly held the tar.

There was no hot tar in the back of this truck, according to Investigator Alan Gravley.
There was no hot tar in the back of this truck, according to Investigator Alan Gravley.(Contributed)

“That barrel hadn’t been used in probably 10 years,” Gravley said.

He said the town of about 2,000 in southern Virginia also gets a lot of scammers coming down from West Virginia.

A typical scheme involves getting cash up front, supposedly for supplies, and then never completing the work. Other scammers say a job will cost one thing and then raise the price dramatically on the invoice.

Hillsville is ready for traveling scammers by requiring a license for door-to-door sales.

It’s such a problem for Hillsville that Gravley himself has had encounters.

After he got home from arresting the North Augustans, his wife asked if he’d seen his Ring video from a couple of days earlier when someone rang the doorbell.

When he looked, he saw Riley and Carroll on his front porch.