FORT WORTH, Texas — A man accused of scamming homeowners for more than a decade was arrested in Dallas on Feb. 14.
Members of the U.S. Marshals North Texas Fugitive Task Force and the Mesquite Police Department arrested Joshua Bell, 36, who had arrest warrants from police departments in Arlington and Mesquite, Texas.
On Feb. 12, the Arlington Police Department posted a RING doorbell video of Bell approaching a home and knocking on the door. He claimed his name was Michael and that he belonged to a reputable roofing company in the Arlington area and was there to complete some warranty work on the home.
The homeowners wrote “Michael” a $1,200 check, but after he left, the homeowner decided to call the roofing company to verify his story. The contractor told the homeowner they hadn’t sent anyone to their home that day. Upon viewing the video footage from the homeowner's RING doorbell, a manager from the company verified he didn’t recognize the man. The contractor also checked the roof and determined no work was done.
According to CBS-affiliated KTVT, Bell also conned an elderly Vietnam veteran in Mesquite out of $17,000 with a similar scam on Jan. 31. Unlike the Arlington scam, he completed what police said were “very basic unnecessary repairs,” and convinced the veteran that their insurance company would reimburse them for the costs. Police were made aware of the scam on Feb. 4.
A story from Fox-affiliated KDFW-TV reports that Bell pleaded guilty to theft and burglary in 2004 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, though he was released in 2011. In 2013, he received another nine-year sentence for the same scams in Cooke and Grayson Counties in Texas. He was out again in 2016.
Texas has cracked down on scammers like Bell with the passing of legislation in August 2019 that prohibits roofing contractors from waiving an insurance deductible. Under the new law, violators could face up to a $2,000 fine and up to six months in jail.