Mooresville fish store owner charged with fraud after stealing thousands from customers

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IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — The Iredell County Sheriff’s Workplace has charged Scott Riley, operator of Mooresville fish retail outlet Lotus Reef, with two counts of felony fraud, following they say he took countless numbers of dollars from customers and in no way compensated the fish tank distributors for their products and solutions, even with telling the buyers their tanks were ordered and shipped.

Jose Esteves is a very pleased member of the reefing community, so when he and his spouse moved into a new dwelling, he made a decision to purchase a new fish tank as a housewarming gift. He put an purchase at Lotus Reef for $10,434 on Jan. 27. The value included a significant fish tank from an aquarium distributor referred to as Waterbox and lights for the tank.

According to messages FOX 46 acquired, Esteves achieved out to Riley just about every thirty day period since the order was put, checking on its standing. Riley knowledgeable Esteves the order was delayed, but would ship soon. Weeks turned into months, and Esteves said issues were starting to come to feel a bit fishy.

“I attained out to the firm, to the producer themselves. That is when they forwarded me that Lotus Reef experienced not compensated for the tank, even although he was invoiced various occasions,” he explained.

In an e mail from Waterbox to Esteves, the business said, “Lotus Reef was invoiced for your buy on July 2nd, no payment for that bill was ever received.”

Esteves states he submitted a complaint with PayPal in late July, obtained his $10,434 returned, and re-ordered the tank specifically from Waterbox.

But Brian Kelly says he is nonetheless combating for his revenue back again.

“After family members and spirituality and that things, the reef tank was a single of the most significant factors to me,” claimed Kelly.

Kelly purchased a practically $7,500 fish tank from Riley in November of 2020, after his unique tank was cracked for the duration of a shift from Asheville to Mooresville. He suggests he remaining thousands of bucks truly worth of corals and fish in Riley’s care as he waited for his new tank to arrive.

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“It was not until I achieved out to Waterbox about 5 months ago and they claimed that it was never ever ordered and that he’s carried out it to other folks that I understood that I was ripped off,” he mentioned.

In an e mail from Waterbox to Kelly, the company claimed, “We do not have an LX [aquarium] on get for you, nor a deposit from Scott Riley of Lotus Reef.” They went on to say they experienced terminated their contract with Riley on July 22.

“He nonetheless has thousands of bucks well worth of my livestock and stuff, so I really do not know if I’m likely to get that,” stated Kelly. “We’re going to have to do civil things subsequent.”

Riley’s lawyer, Brad Smith, suggests they approach to file a movement to dismiss the costs versus Riley on Wednesday. They say they have proof that Riley did in fact buy the tanks from Waterbox, but would not present them to FOX 46 until after the movement is submitted.

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