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Fishing guide arrested for alleged fraud
Follows long investigation spanning multiple jurisdictions
Bradley Shane Watson
Bradley Shane Watson

A local fishing guide accused of fraudulent investment deals has been arrested by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, authorities say.

Bradley Shane Watson, 50, owner of Shane Watson Guide Service, was taken into custody Wednesday evening after he self-surrendered on four county arrest warrants. He has been charged with three counts of felony theft by deception and one count of account fraud, according to Cpl. Doug Rainwater, spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the now-disconnected website, Lakelanierstripers.com, Watson is described as “a 3rd generation Lake Lanier fisherman” that runs “Lake Lanier’s ‘Only’ Full-Time Fishing Fleet.’”

Prior to his arrest, the FCN reported that Watson had been implicated in a number of theft by deception and fraud cases in Forsyth, Banks and Monroe counties; Aiken County, S.C.; and the city of Gainesville. Incident reports indicated a pattern of fraudulent dealings in which Watson allegedly took thousands of dollars from victims under the guise of legitimate investments.

Forsyth County Court records also showed that Watson had been the subject of three civil lawsuits involving unpaid investments.

Since the FCN’s previous report, additional incident reports involving Watson have been reported to authorities in the cities of Milton and Roswell, as well as Walton County. Two additional civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson, his business and his wife, Pamela J. Watson.

In total, 15 possible victims have come forward to authorities.

Rainwater said that the sheriff’s office has confirmed charges for two alleged victims within the county, and detectives are investigating other reports. 

One report filed on May 11, 2018, states that a victim allegedly gave Watson $9,000 in April 2017 as a down payment on a new Carolina Skiff boat, due to be delivered the following winter. The report states that Watson allegedly did not fulfill the boat contract. In April 2018, the victim received a refund check from Watson which when deposited was returned for insufficient funds.

“Mr. Watson now tells him that he doesn’t have the money and is trying to come up with the money,” the report stated.

Another report filed on May 18, 2018, states that between August and December of 2017 Watson allegedly secured loans of $55,000 from a victim and promised a return of almost 50 percent by March 2018. The report states that in April of 2018 the victim received two checks for his investments, but when deposited both were returned for insufficient funds.

According to victim statements to numerous law enforcement agencies, Watson allegedly secured money from victims by taking down payments for boats and by soliciting large-return loans ranging in amount from $25,000 to $180,000.

Like the two Forsyth County incidents for which Watson is currently charged, victims in each of the other jurisdictions state that they either never received a boat they had paid for, or when they received returns off of investments made with Watson their checks were returned for insufficient funds.

Numerous previous attempts to contact Watson for comment and to determine if Watson has legal representation were unsuccessful as of press time.

Watson was booked into the Forsyth County Jail under a bond of $34,560. Rainwater said that when Watson is released on bond, he will be arrested on outstanding warrants in Aiken, S.C.