TEXARKANA, Texas–A man operating a business installing fences in the Texarkana area allegedly visited a competitor, asked to use the phone and forwarded the business’ calls to his own establishment so he could take their customers.
Kerry Clifton Rowland, 35, is currently being held in the Bowie County jail with bonds totaling $300,000, according to booking records. Rowland allegedly paid a visit to Best Fence Company in Texarkana, Texas, on Sept. 7 at around 2 p.m. and asked to borrow the phone, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Rowland, who was operating a business called That Fence Company, allegedly used a simple code to forward the Best Fence Company phone calls to his own number before walking out of the business. The Best Fence Company owner reported to Texarkana, Texas, police that he contacted his phone provider, Sparklight, and was told his calls were being forwarded.
It took about a week for the phone company to stop the forwarding and Rowland allegedly managed to obtain fence contracts worth thousands by pretending to be with Best Fence Company when customers would call.
The owner of Best Fence Company, whose office is the size of a “small bedroom” and has only one phone, provided investigators with phone logs on Sept. 15 that showed no fewer than 26 calls had been forwarded to Rowland’s number. The first forwarded call was made just minutes after Rowland left.
In a phone conversation with Texarkana Texas Police Dept. investigator Warren Smith the day before, Rowland admitted to entering the business but allegedly denied doing anything to interfere with Best Fence Company’s phone system. When confronted with the phone log evidence the next day, Rowland allegedly continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Investigator Smith called every number that had been forwarded from Best Fence Company to Rowland’s number and determined that Rowland had managed to swipe business from the company during the week he allegedly took control of their phone number.
A number of the prospective Best Fence Company customers told Smith that Rowland answered the phone using the Best Fence Company name and held himself out to be associated with that business. Rowland allegedly told one customer that Best Fence Company had moved, giving an approximate location that matched Rowland’s business address.
“After my investigation, I believe that the victims missed out on several thousand dollars of job opportunities in the area, not to mention having Rowland diminish their reputation by misrepresenting himself as Best Fence Company,” the affidavit said. “Rowland also shows to have a pattern of committing deceptive and fraudulent acts during 2023.”
When Smith met with the real owners of Best Fence Company earlier this month, he noted the office’s small size and that there was only one phone. The real owners told Smith that Rowland had approached them in April about “buying their number,” but they had refused.
Smith said the mom and pop owners of Best Fence Company told him that on the day Rowland came into the shop in September, only the husband was there and he allowed Rowland to use the phone when he asked.
Rowland allegedly “never spoke with anyone” and had the Best Fence Company phone in his possession “for no more than 10 seconds” before leaving. Rowland is accused of using the Best Fence Company owner’s courteous agreement to let him make a call from the business to forward their landline calls and execute his scheme to steal their customers and line his pockets.
Rowland was arrested Monday for unlawful interference with a communication device and two counts of deceptive trade practices. If convicted, Rowland faces up to 20 years in prison on the unlawful interference count.
The case has been assigned to 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Court records show Rowland has retained Texarkana lawyer David James. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp is representing the state.