Man arrested for allegedly stealing nearly all of family member’s Social Security benefits for a month

Composite image with background image by Thea Design/iStock/Getty Images Plus; overly stock image by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Hurricane man recently arrested on warrants for previous felony theft charges also faces charges for allegedly stealing more than $900 from an elderly family member who receives just $1,000 per month in Social Security benefits to live on.

Eric Leroy McGarvie, 31, of Hurricane, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 13, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

On Feb.12, officers responded to a fraud call involving a resident in Hurricane who reported that hundreds of dollars were transferred out of her account without her permission.

During the interview, the 911 caller went on to explain a family member, identified as 31-year-old Eric Leroy McGarvie, was temporarily staying with her.

Officers also learned that days before, the suspect had asked to use the relative’s cell phone and explained that his phone was not working properly.

The caller stated that each time she asked for her phone back, McGarvie would respond by asking for more time. After a couple more requests, she reportedly was ultimately told by McGarvie that he had lost it.

With the help of a friend the woman was able to track the cell phone using GPS and later found it abandoned at the Walmart in Hurricane. When the phone was recovered, she realized it had been reset. All of the information appeared to have been erased from the phone, and all of the apps were gone.

Once the information was restored, the reporting party went to the web browser and noticed there were seven different tabs that were opened for the website PayPal.

When the woman opened her PayPal account, the report states, she discovered three separate transactions for $300 each that were sent from the account. Despite the suspect telling the family member his own phone wasn’t working properly, one payment was sent to McGarvie’s cell phone, another to a business he owns and the third to a friend.

The total amount withdrawn from the account totaled nearly $920 including the transaction fees. Authorities were also provided screen shots of the transactions.

The reporting party told police she never authorized the suspect to access her account or to make any transactions or withdrawals. The officer also noted that the woman “receives $1,000 a month from social security to live on,” and yet the suspect had allegedly withdrawn more than $900 from her.

The following day, McGarvie was arrested in the parking lot of Albertson’s Grocery on Sunset Boulevard by officers in St. George for two outstanding warrants on unrelated cases.

One of the warrants was issued on a case filed in December involving the theft of a trailer and three all-terrain vehicles that were stolen from a residence in Washington County in December. Deputies recovered video footage showing a white pickup truck pull up to the residence and hook the trailer to the pickup and then drive off.

The owner found out the identity of the suspect the following day and during a telephone call, the report states that McGarvie allegedly told the man “he was sorry for taking his things and that he was on drugs and didn’t know what he was doing.” McGarvie faced four counts of second-degree felony theft following the incident.

During Saturday’s arrest in St. George, officers searched the suspect prior to transport and found what appeared to be heroin and paraphernalia in one of his pockets. He was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on the warrants and misdemeanor drug charges.

Officers from the Hurricane fraud case were notified of the arrest, and during an interview at the jail, the suspect allegedly told authorities he attempted to gain access to several of the financial apps on the family member’s cell phone. It wasn’t until he accessed the PayPal account that he was able to transfer money to the various accounts as alleged.

The suspect went on to explain that he struggles with drugs and “was doing whatever he could to get money for drugs,” the officer noted in the report.

He also told officers he “was so focused on the drugs” that he left the family member’s cell phone in the drug dealer’s car and that it must have been “ditched” at Walmart.

Following the interview, the suspect faced additional charges, including a third-degree felony count of unlawful acquisition of a financial card and a single misdemeanor count of unlawful use of a financial card. He is being held on $7,510 bail.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!