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WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Superstorm Sandy victims in New Jersey who have been desperate for help are finding themselves victimized a second time.
As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported Monday, this time, a scammer managed to con them out of nearly $50,000.
David Ruddy, 32, of Metuchen, N.J., was arrested and jailed after police said he preyed on desperate storm victims at shelters, damaged neighborhoods and flood zones – with promises.
“It’s just very hurtful, especially since there’s a lot of victims from Sandy, and single mothers,” said Mercedes Abreu, one of 11 victims, and counting.
Sandy devastated Abreu’s home, so she signed a contract, handed over $8,500, and placed her hope in Ruddy’s hands.
“He was that good,” Abreu said. “I don’t know how to explain. He was just that good.”
He was too good, according to Woodbridge police. They accused Ruddy of raking in more than $50,000 as he posed as either a Federal Emergency Management Agency worker, a Red Cross volunteer, or even a police officer.
He collected cash, insurance money, and FEMA checks for deals too good to be true.
“Houses, condos, apartments, vehicles — very low price, so people jumped on the opportunity, and they were scammed,” said Woodbridge Police Det. Santiago Tapia.
Tapia said Ruddy “does come across as very persuasive; he could get you to hand over your wallet.”
And it gets better. The alleged scammer set up an actual office, on Busy Street in Woodbridge, and in, of all places, a law firm.
The attorney at the Win Law Firm said he took a loss, too.
“He told me he’s got emotional issues; he’s got brain cancer, things like that,” said attorney Frederick Win.
It was just another lie, according to Win, who claimed that Ruddy still owes him three months’ rent on the tiny office space he used.
Ruddy has been charged with impersonation and theft by deception.
If convicted, what do you think would be an appropriate sentence for Ruddy? Leave your comments below…