Reverse mortgage scam leaves fewer than half of Spring Hill residents with own cell phone store


By Frank Fencil |

SPRING HILL, Florida — For the first time in more than a decade, fewer than half of Spring Hill residents own a cell phone store as a popular reverse mortgage scam has decimated thousands of the businesses.

County economic data released this week show that a mere 41 percent of Spring Hill residents 18 and older now have their own personal storefront, and of those, 74 percent are now just kiosks inside of larger businesses. Those numbers peaked in 2012 when 60 percent of residents owned a standalone cell phone store.

A private investor touting a profitable reverse mortgage offer made the rounds among the business beginning in 2011, and so many Hernando County cell phone shop owners, blinded by their greed, were quick to sign. Soon after the payments became too large for the shops and owners found themselves unable to make payments on the income from phone insurance plans and jeweled cases.

Now many are left without a way to make a living.

“We’re from the cell phone belt. This is all we know how to do,” said Sal Carilli, who owned 14 cell phone stores and nine kiosks two years ago and now finds himself one of Spring Hill’s tens of thousands of homeless.

Frank Fencil

Frank Fencil is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades' experience. He has uncovered government corruption, toppled dirty police forces and covered two foreign wars as an international correspondent. He chose to return to his native Spring Hill in hopes of giving his hometown the quality watchdog journalism it deserves.

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