DAVIS, CARTERET COUNTY - A Carteret County man has admitted to scamming people into giving money for a fake Boy Scouts fundraiser.
Matthew Claude Willis, 40, of Davis, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, District Attorney Scott Thomas announced Thursday.
According to Thomas, Willis traveled around Carteret County in late August and sold raffle tickets for a fundraiser which he claimed was for the Boy Scouts of America. He scammed his victims into paying for $10 tickets, and promised a grand prize of between 20 to 100 pounds of shrimp, Thomas said.
But the leader of one of the local Boy Scout troops heard about Willis' supposed fundraiser and reported that it did not exist, said Thomas. The Carteret County Sheriff's Office learned that about 15 people became victims to Willis' scam.
During the time of the scam, Willis was on probation for 2012 convictions of safecracking and felony larceny, according to Thomas. As part of Willis' guilty plea, he also admitted that he had violated his probation.
Willis was sentenced to between 6 and 17 months in prison for the scam. The sentence will be carried out after he serves between 8 and 10 months in prison for violating his probation, Thomas said. In all, Willis will serve between 1 year and 2 months to 2 years and 3 months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction.
The money that he owed -restitution, attorney's fees, court costs- were entered as a civil judgment against him, Thomas said.
A Carteret County man has been arrested for going door to door, saying he was raising money for the Boy Scouts of America, according to deputies.
Matthew Claude Willis, 40, of Davis, has been charged with three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. Deputies say he knocked on doors in the Downeast community and told people he was selling raffle tickets for a Boy Scout fundraiser. He allegedly told victims the $10 tickets gave them a chance to win 50 lbs. of shrimp, while also helping out the Scouts. Deputies said some people even bought multiple tickets.
Weston Willis, no relation to Matthew Willis, said he fell victim to the scam.
"You think you're doing a good deed for the community, for the young kids, and all of a sudden you realize that you've been scammed," he said.
Weston Willis said Matthew Willis lives down the street from him and showed up at his front door with his young son selling the tickets.
Major Jason Wank said Willis scammed more than 15 victims.
"He used little ripped off half tickets which I think people may be caught on to it and started putting two and two together," Wank said.
Weston Willis said when he realized what happened, he immediately called the Davis scout master.
After being confronted by the scout leader, Matthew Willis returned money to several victims, telling them there had been a misunderstanding.
Matthew Willis is being held in the Carteret County Jail under a $15,000 bond.