Woman scammed at least 104, police say

Almost two months after her arrest, police have a final tally of the number of people who say they were duped by an Augusta woman's scam.

One hundred and four people in Richmond and Columbia counties have come forward claiming to have been tricked into buying, and in some cases selling, electronic items for Cynthia O'Tyson's falsified company, Wholesale Liquidators. The total amount of money stolen was about $270,000, according to police.

Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Anita Hopson said the information will be turned over to District Attorney Danny Craig and that authorities plan to pursue a racketeering charge.

"This is the largest victim count for one individual to be charged with that I've ever worked on," Investigator Hopson said.

Ms. O'Tyson turned herself in to authorities July 19 and was originally charged with three felony counts of theft by deception. She is accused of using friends, church members, co-workers and associates from some of the civic organizations she belonged to, including the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, to spread information about the discounted electronic items she claimed to be selling. She would take checks from the victims for items such as flat-screen televisions and computers, but she delivered the items only to a few customers in order to keep up the appearance of a legitimate business, Investigator Hopson said.

Although 104 people have come forward, Investigator Hopson estimates that between 50 and 100 other victims have not. She said many might feel embarrassed because they were duped.

"She tricked (everyone) from business owners to law enforcement," Ms. Hopson said.

Ms. O'Tyson is also believed to have reimbursed some victims with stolen money when they confronted her about not receiving their orders, Investigator Hopson said.

Ms. O'Tyson is being held at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center on Phinizy Road.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.