NASHVILLE – A criminal complaint unsealed today charged a Franklin, Tennessee couple with an elaborate scheme to defraud an elderly widow of $1.7 million, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee. FBI agents this morning, arrested Karl Hampton, 63, and his wife, Deborah Hampton, 59, at their home. Karl Hampton is charged with wire fraud and money laundering and Deborah Hampton is charged with money laundering. Both will make an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later today.
According to the criminal complaint, Karl Hampton met an 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.
Beginning in approximately January 2018, when the elderly woman was 85 years old, and continuing until about June 2020, Karl Hampton devised and executed a scheme to defraud the woman and various financial institutions and credit and loan-issuing institutions by deceiving the woman into believing that he was her son or godson and that he would care for her personally and financially. He then used his influence over her to convince her to sign over her Power of Attorney (POA) and to name him in her Revocable Living Trust (RLT) and in her will. Karl Hampton 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, all 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.
In April 2019, Karl Hampton 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 Hampton as the Agent and Deborah Hampton as the successor agent. The RLT and the will specified that Karl Hampton and Deborah Hampton would be beneficiaries when the woman died. In May 2019, shortly after inducing the woman to sign the POA, Karl Hampton quit his job and thereafter continued to drain the woman’s bank accounts to fund his lavish lifestyle.
On June 8, 2019, 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. Upon the woman’s admission to WCMC and on the application to place her at NHC, Karl Hampton listed himself as her “son,” her trustee, POA, and emergency contact. 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 Hampton took out a $500,000 line of credit in the woman’s name at SunTrust, using her security accounts at SunTrust as collateral. Karl Hampton then wrote checks to himself, purchased cashier’s checks, took out cash withdrawals, and transferred money out of the woman’s bank account and into a bank account in the name of Falcon Company, which he set up and controlled.
In January 2020, 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.
During the course of the scheme, Karl Hampton took 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 Hampton 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.
If convicted, the Karl Hampton faces up to 20 years in prison and Deborah Hampton faces up to 10 years.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Booth.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation of guilt. Both defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.