Mother, son bilk local businesses out of thousands in merchandise
There was something about a mother and son shopping at Home Town Furniture that didn’t sit well with owner Steve Ludwick. About three weeks ago, investigators say, Casey Lee Armstrong and his mother, Marsha Gail Holmes, walked into the downtown Salisbury store and tried to buy furniture with a fraudulent check.
Ludwick told authorities the two picked out $1,500 worth of furniture. A seemingly nervous Armstrong wrote the check to the store, a report said. While the two were out, Ludwick had an employee verify the check.
Luckily, he said, Bank of America stays open until 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and an employee there confirmed his suspicion that the check would not cover the furniture.
“They acted a little bit surprised, but not surprised,” Ludwick said.
The incident occurred on Feb. 16. He told the pair to return Monday.
He said two things seemed odd to him — the out-of-town check and the fact that they wanted to take the check with them. When the pair first arrived they told Ludwick they’d just deposited Armstrong’s tax refund and wanted to buy some furniture.
Two weeks later, Ludwick said, he learned other local businesses were swindled by the same duo.
Armstrong, 26, listed as living at the Charlotte Homeless Shelter, and Holmes, 48, of Dallas in Gaston County, are being sought for felony obtaining property by false pretenses.
“This looked like an average couple. The son was very nervous, and that flew up a red flag, too,” Ludwick said.
Since this incident, the furniture store is putting a policy in place that will require employees to verify out-of-town checks or ask the customer to return during the week when a bank can verify an account.
About an hour after leaving the furniture store, authorities say the two showed up at Queens Gifts in the 200 block of South Main Street. They were able to cash a check for $225 from the store. A report said the two bought a pair of Rainbow sandals for $50, a purse for $75, tumblers, candles, key chains, bath wraps and bath towels.
An employee noted Holmes had to sign the check because Armstrong seemed nervous and was “shaking,” said Rowan Sheriff’s Capt. John Sifford.
Holmes told the employee her son was sick and hadn’t taken his medicines and they were headed to the hospital. Investigators aren’t sure if the two are really mother and son.
About an hour later after leaving Queens Gifts, the report said the two bought $1,850 worth of furniture at Kimbrell’s Furniture in the 2100 block of Statesville Boulevard. Holmes and Armstrong wrote a check for a queen-sized bed, dresser and mirror set, a night stand, a chest, two lamps and a 43-inch television.
An employee said Armstrong was shaking so badly he was having a hard time writing the check. Holmes told the employee Armstrong has “trouble with how bad he shakes,” Sifford said.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Armstrong and Holmes. Authorities ask anyone with information about the two to contact the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700.