Two arrested for scamming church members in multi-state crime spree

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 7:50 PM EST
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Two men arrested for scamming church members in Dorchester County are being connected to similar crimes in other states.

The suspects, 26-year-old Santiago Aguilar and 37-year-old Billy Tomlinson, were recently arrested in Coffee County, Tennessee.

Investigators say the men meet their victims at churches and bridal shows and then scam them out of money.

Dorchester County deputies say Aguilar and Tomlinson used the Metropolitan Community Church on Dorchester Road to target two women.

Investigators say in 2018, they all became friends at the church. Deputies say Agular and Tomlinson were hired by the women to do work on their home. They gave the men more than $6,000 for a deposit and materials, but the duo skipped town with their cash.

It's a familiar story to Chelsea Mitttlefehldt.

Mittlefehldt says in 2013, Billy Tomlinson approached her sister at a bridal show in Niagara Falls New York.

She says Tomlinson, who was working for a florist, convinced her sister to give him a deposit for flowers and a photographer for her wedding.

"He didn't know any photographers and it was over a thousand dollars that she was scammed," Mittlefehldt said.

After the crime, Mittlefehldt created a page on Facebook.

She called it "Stop Billy Russell Tomlinson"

"We just had to let other people know this is what he's doing," Mittlefehldt said. "He targets people that are nice people, churches and brides who are just on could nine at the happiest times of their lives, and he is scamming them."

Mittlefehldt’s prayers for justice were answered about a week and a half ago when Tomlinson and his accused accomplice were arrested.

They are being held in jail there.

Dorchester County Sheriff's Lt. Rick Carson posted the capture on the "Stop Billy Russell Tomlinson" page.

"And he called me and was like, you're gonna want to approve the post that I posted on that page because we got him. And I was like crying because I was so happy," Mittlefehldt said.

Aguilar and Tomlinson are expected to be brought back to South Carolina on Thursday and will be charged with breach or trust in Dorchester County, deputies say.

They also are facing charges in Aiken County.

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