ATHENS, Ga. -- Athens Clarke-County police have charged a Norcross man suspected of defrauding elderly drivers across North Georgia with felony theft by deception and exploitation of the elderly.
So far, one victim has come forward in Athens, but detectives believe other seniors are too scared or too embarrassed to file a report.
“The victim (we know about) almost didn’t report it because he was so embarrassed,” said Athens-Clarke police Detective Taylor Bell.
Authorities believe Joe Quick, 45, of Norcross, preyed on elderly drivers across metro Atlanta, but don’t know how many he took advantage of before he was arrested on Dec. 15. He currently is held at the Barrow County Detention Center.
Police believe Quick would drive around in his white Ford pickup looking for elderly drivers. He would flag them down and tell them that something was wrong with their tires. Then, he would offer to fix the problem for a price, which varied from $5 to $1,500, said Sgt. Rachel Love with the Winder Police Department.
Winder police caught up with Quick last week after an alert mechanic called police and told them that he had seen several older women come into his shop asking him to check their tires and telling him about their run-ins with Quick.
Police have found at least five of Quick’s victims in Winder and have gotten calls from across North Georgia from detectives who are trying to solve similar cases in their jurisdictions.
So far, police in Fulton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County, Roswell and now Athens-Clarke County all have filed charges against Quick.
Quick was operating in Winder over the past two weeks, but Athens-Clarke County police believe he was running his scheme in Athens around Thanksgiving.
Bell met with a 77-year-old man on Thursday who told him that a man matching Quick’s description had flagged him down on Nov. 26 while he was driving on Rocksprings Street near Springdale Street.
The man was driving a white truck and honked his horn until the elderly man pulled over. He told the 77-year-old that his right rear wheel was “dangerously unbalanced” and said he could fix the problem with the car, according to Bell’s report.
The scammer charged the 77-year-old $500 for the service and told him he expected a large tip. They drove to a nearby ATM, where the 77-year-old withdrew $600 from his savings account.
It wasn’t until later that the man realized he’d been scammed, Bell said.
The man told Bell he came forward after fellow Rotary Club members told him several women had been scammed in the Alps Road area, according to Bell’s report.
Bell learned of Quick’s arrest at an inter-jurisdictional police meeting last week and started looking at him as a suspect in the Athens-Clarke case. While Bell was investigating, the victim saw Quick’s picture on a news broadcast and recognized him as the man who had scammed him.