FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — FBI agents arrested a Franklin couple for allegedly planning an elaborate scheme to defraud an elderly widow of $1.7 million.
Karl Hampton, 63, and his wife, Deborah Hampton, 59, were arrested at their home Wednesday morning. Both were charged with money laundering, Karl was also charged with wire fraud.
A criminal complaint says from January 2018 through June 2020, Karl made the woman believe he was her son or godson and that he would care for her personally and financially. But really, the FBI says he was defrauding her, financial institutions and credit and loan-issuing institutions.
Karl reportedly used his influence to convince her to sign over her Power of Attorney (POA) and to name him in her Revocable Living Trust (RLT) and her will.
Officials say over the years, he methodically drained the woman’s bank accounts, took out a $500,000 line of credit in her name using her securities as collateral, and amassed huge charges on her credit cards for his own personal expenses.
They say he did all of it under the false pretenses that he had a valid POA, that he was entitled to her money and property, and that he was acting for her benefit and in her interest, according to a press release from Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Booth. If convicted, Karl Hampton faces up to 20 years in prison and Deborah Hampton faces up to 10 years.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS ACCORDING TO THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT
Jan. 2016 - May 2019 - Karl provides services to elderly woman
Karl met the elderly widow while he was working as an exterminator for a Belle Meade-based pest control company and provided extermination services for her home from approximately January 2016 through May 2019.
April 2019 - Woman gives Hamptons control
Karl accompanied the woman to an attorney’s office, where she signed a POA, a RLT and a will, each of which purported to give Karl Hampton considerable control over her assets. The POA appointed Karl as the Agent and Deborah as the successor agent.
The RLT and the will specified that the Hamptons would be beneficiaries when the woman died. In May 2019, shortly after inducing the woman to sign the POA, Karl quit his job and continued to drain the woman’s bank accounts to fund his lavish lifestyle.
June 8, 2019 - Woman diagnosed with dementia
The woman fell and fractured her hip and was transported to Williamson County Medical Center (WCMC) and then to NHC of Cool Springs (NHC), which was an assisted living facility, for recovery following hip surgery.
During her hospital visit and transfer to NHC, the woman was diagnosed with dementia. Staff at NHC also noted that the woman was malnourished when she arrived, and staff discussed with Karl Hampton that she suffered from dementia.
Karl listed himself as her “son,” her trustee, POA, and emergency contact when she was admitted to WCMC. On other occasions, Karl Hampton called a financial institution, allegedly on the woman’s behalf, and represented that he was her “personal assistant” and another time falsely represented that she was his “mother.”
In December 2019 - Karl takes out $500,000 line of credit
Karl took out a $500,000 line of credit in the woman’s name at SunTrust, using her security accounts at SunTrust as collateral. He then wrote checks to himself, purchased cashier’s checks, took out cash withdrawals, and transferred money out.
January 2020 - Karl uses the money to invest in his own business
Karl Hampton used $170,000 of the money from the line of credit to purchase an ownership interest in his own name in a pest control business located in Franklin. Also, in January 2020 Karl Hampton rented an apartment in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the woman’s name. By this time, the woman had been living at NHC for almost six months.
Hamptons make big purchases:
During the course of the scheme, Karl is believed to have taken a total of approximately $1,240,438.06 from the woman’s accounts, and frequently purchased luxury items and often spent between $1,000 and $1,500 per day on lottery tickets.
In February 2019, Karl Hampton and Deborah Hampton purchased a luxury Lexus SUV, using $21,000 of the criminal proceeds. In January 2020, the Hamptons spent $21,452 on a 4.3-karat diamond ring, also using proceeds of the fraud.
Karl also liquidated two investment accounts of the woman’s deceased sister in the amount of $246,645 and used the money for his own benefit.