Nassau County police charged Frederick Espinal, 23, of the Bronx, with four counts of third-degree grand larceny in connection with a series of scams that conned several elders out of roughly $90,000.
Police Department Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran announced the arrest at a news conference on Dec. 20.
“We can’t thank the public enough,” Ryder said. “They came forward with this information. They got us to the Bronx.”
Two Oceanside residents were among the victims, including one woman who gave the suspect $45,000 on Dec. 3 after he told her that her son had been arrested and needed bail money. When the suspect came to her house, his image was captured by her doorbell camera and released by police.
“This guy, this dirt bag, came to the woman’s door,” Curran said, referencing the latest Oceanside incident. “We want to make sure that every senior knows how to protect themselves, so they don’t become preyed upon.”
According to an NCPD report, the man stole money from an 81-year-old Oceanside woman on Dec. 3 at around 11 a.m. Police said the subject called the woman and said that her son had been arrested after a car accident, which he claimed caused injuries. The man said her son required $7,500 in bail money to be released. The victim gave him the cash at her residence, according to detectives.
After the first transaction, the caller told the victim that an additional $7,500 was needed because the bail had been raised. He claimed that a pregnant woman had been injured in the accident and lost her child. The victim again paid the man at her residence.
The man then contacted her a third time. He said that $30,000 would cover medical costs and would expunge her son’s criminal record if paid in cash. He met the victim and collected the payment.
Police have linked the man to a series of scams across the county. According to Ryder, the man conned $30,000 from a Roslyn senior citizen, more than $5,900 from a Great Neck senior and $8,430 from an Oceanside senior. In each case, the man told the victims that one of their loved ones had been arrested or injured, or both, and needed money.
Ryder said that police linked the man to the other crimes through videos, pictures and descriptions from the victims. All of the victims were over 70. He added that the man unsuccessfully attempted to take $19,000 from a Farmingdale resident, and he was likely involved in other scams that have not yet been reported.
Curran said that seniors should not feel embarrassed to come forward if they have been ripped off. She also pleaded with residents who have elderly neighbors to check on them and make sure they are OK if untrustworthy people appear at their doors.
Officials added that seniors should be wary of anyone calling them and requesting money, and advised them to be careful about what they post on social media.