North Naples man accused of stealing over $14K from elderly client with phony company

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A North Naples man was arrested Thursday after detectives say he operated a phony air conditioning company that defrauded an elderly client out of more than $14,000.

On the surface, Kola Cooling looks like a real business. They have photos of air conditioners and an average 4.8 rating review on Google, but the Collier County Sheriff’s Office says none of it is real. They say the mastermind of this fraud is 24-year-old Marian Kola.

Detectives say Kola targeted and ripped off a 77-year-old woman over the course of a year.

On Friday, he faced the judge.

“The state has concerns that Mr. Kola is a flight risk. Law enforcement indicated to me that he has traveled out of the country four times in 2022. He has family, and has been recently to Istanbul (Turkey) and Albania. Given the charges, and the states, and law enforcement is concerned regarding flight risk or seeking heightened bonds,” said the state prosecutor in court on Friday.

Defense Attorney Lee Hollander argued for a minimal bond. “Mr. Kola has ties to the community. He’s been approved for a house. Lives here. Has a family here,” said Hollander.

Detectives say the victim, who suffers from initial dementia, reached out to Kola Cooling when she needed a new A.C.

Without her knowledge, he installed an A.C. From a second-hand warehouse in Tampa.

The victim began having problems with the system within weeks of the installation. Reports said Kola returned to her home to perform repairs, charging her for parts. In July 2022, he returned again to perform more repairs. Kola charged her $340. She gave him her credit card, which he swiped through an app on his tablet, and she signed for. He then asked her for a check for $340, causing her to believe her card hadn’t worked. She then gave him a check for $340 which he deposited.

The next day, the victim received an invoice from an app Kola uses charging her another $340 and an additional $13,950 for a new air conditioning system. Reports said the victim repeatedly attempted to contact Kola about the fraudulent charges, but he never returned her calls or emails.

Detectives say Kola was operating his business using a business license number belonging to a local fire department inspector. That person’s number was displayed on Kola’s business cards and his service vehicle.

Detectives say Kola was “completely untruthful” when they interviewed him in December 2022. They located him at his home on Thursday and took him into custody.

Kola faces charges of fraud, theft, crimes against an elderly person, and using a contract that wasn’t his.

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