After a lengthy investigation by local police, a California man is facing 19 counts of communication fraud here in Carbon County. According to Price City Police Sergeant Robb Radley, these charges relate to an online business scam operated by Kelly John Garrett.
Radley explained that Garrett has been operating two websites offering services, primarily grazing rights to unsuspecting individuals. “He was using these websites to generate business, so to speak,” explained Radley. “He basically sold stuff he didn’t have to sell. It is more than just a case of bad business practice, it’s fraud.”
Land located in southern Utah near Torrey was being sold to cattle owners from several different states. Sgt. Radley explained that Garrett’s parents owned the land, which was said to be subdivided into various parcels used for grazing. Garrett leased these parcels and sold hay produced on the land but was never authorized to do so. “He never went through the legal process of having the land subdivided, yet he claimed it was part of a subdivision,” explained Radley. “He didn’t have the ability or authority to sell the products he was selling.”
A couple of local victims fell to Garrett’s sneaky business tactics. “One victim goes as far as driving down to Torrey with a load of cattle, just to find out that there were no grazing rights to the property in question,” Sgt. Radley explained. “Meanwhile, out-of-pocket expenses continued to build for this victim.”
Upon some investigation, the victim discovered previous fraud charge against Garrett. That is when the victim turned to local police for help. As Sgt. Radley probed into the matter, he discovered many more victims from several different states. He also found that an FBI agent in California is currently investigating Garrett’s business practices. “It is difficult to say how long he’s (Garrett) been at this,” Sgt. Radley stated. “But it’s been at least since 1998, when he was being investigated for similar charges.”
Currently, Garrett is incarcerated in the Carbon County Jail and is charged with 19 counts of communication fraud, stemming from incidents involving local residents. Garrett appeared before Seventh District Court Judge George Harmond on Monday requesting to be released from the county jail. Garrett explained he is losing money while behind bars. Judge Harmond denied Garrett’s request, staying bail at $100,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.
“This is an ongoing case with complaints still coming in,” explained Sgt. Radley. “Sometimes victims are embarrassed to come forward, but this was a well-done scam and we encourage anyone who got caught up in this scam to come forward.”
Any out of state complaints that are reported to Price Police will be forwarded to the correct law enforcement agency.