Brick Township police have charged a Toms River man with swindling a displaced victim of Superstorm Sandy out of money she paid to rent a house he did not actually own.
Anthony White, 46, of North Carolina Avenue, was arrested Wednesday, Brick Police Sgt. Keith Reinhard said.
The victim, whom police did not identify, had her Brick Township home knocked off its foundation in the storm. On Dec. 3, she posted an advertisement on the Craigslist classified website seeking a temporary rental.
She later received a text-message response about a potential rental available on Dogwood Drive. The person sending the text message, who called himself Mr. Dublin, said the home was unlocked, and advised the prospective tenant to enter the home, see if it suited her needs, and call back, said Reinhard.
Having done so, the victim and her 17-year-old daughter met the suspect at the Brick Staples store where they met "Mr. Dublin," whom police say has now been identified as White.
The woman handed White $2,250 in cash for a security deposit and was given keys to the home, however when she arrived, the doors were locked and the keys did not work.
She then went to the police department, having realized she was a victim of a scam, Reinhard said.
During the meeting at Staples, however, the victim's daughter had snapped a cell phone photo of the suspect after she felt suspicious of the arrangement.
The case was assigned to Detective Daniel Waleski, who was able to identify "Mr. Dublin" as White.
"This photo was instrumental in identifying the suspect, Anthony White," said Reinhard.
Over the course of the investigation, said Reinhard, it was found out that the property's owner – who was not White – had legitimately been advertising his property for rent, and had already found a tenant.
White was charged Wednesday with theft by deception, issued a summons and released. He also posted $7,000 bail on four warrants out of Brick, Toms River, Ocean County and Evesham Township.
The Brick Township Police Department is advising all citizens to be aware of possible scams, Reinhard said. The department released White's mug shot "due to the fact that the identification of the defendant may reveal other criminal conduct and will promote the safety of the general public. "
"People who are in need of a rental property, or purchasing a product online, should do their due diligence or contact a professional for assistance," said Reinhard.