A Rockwall County man was arrested following a lengthy investigation of defrauding individuals who contracted with Seventy 18 Construction, LLC.
Parker County Sheriff Russ Authier said the case investigation began earlier this year when a complaint was filed with the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division of individuals entering into service contract agreements with the suspect, who failed to provide those services.
The victims reported the suspect, identified as Richard Derek Wortham, 37, of Heath, TX, kept the money paid by the victims.
Sheriff’s investigators said Wortham, who is the owner of Seventy 18 Construction, LLC, entered into binding agreements with the victims to pour concrete and provide metal for various construction jobs.
One victim reported Wortham entered into a contract with him in January, keeping a payment of $26,350 without providing the services or materials. Once the contract was signed and the money exchange was made, Wortham never returned to the customer’s address to start the construction projects.
Sheriff’s investigators collaborated with fraud investigators from JP Morgan, discovering Wortham used the funds paid by the victim for his personal and travel expenses without any business-related transactions or purchases made to his account.
Sheriff’s investigators also collaborated with Laramie County Sheriff’s Office in Wyoming which was investigating Wortham for additional fraud cases, revealing he entered into similar contracts with additional victims, while keeping payments from the victims in excess of $100,000, and refusing to provide contracted services or materials. A grand jury subpoena was obtained for records and complaints against Wortham to the Better Business Bureau in Austin, seeking records of complaints they received regarding Wortham or Seventy18, LLC.
Records were also subpoenaed from JP Morgan Chase Bank seeking documents linking to the Seventy 18 LLC, account where Wortham deposited payments from the victims.
Sheriff’s investigators discovered Wortham had set up several business names in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, scamming dozens of victims and never providing services or materials, as contracted to do so. Wortham’s business’s social media page included photographs of construction jobs and projects which sheriff’s investigators discovered were downloaded photographs from Pinterest, belonging to another business which had no dealings with Wortham, nor did he have permission to use those photographs. A warrant was issued earlier this month for Wortham, on a state jail felony charges of theft of property $2,500 to $30,000 and an additional warrant issued out of Laramie County for unauthorized use of personal information. Sheriff’s investigators were notified by the DFW Airport Police that Wortham was identified and arrested as he was boarding an international flight to Cancun, Mexico, on July 15. Wortham booked into the Parker County Jail the following day. He was released July 24, on a $30,000 bond.
The case has been forwarded to the Parker County District Attorney’s Office.
Wortham’s bond conditions included him surrendering his passport.