For some homeowners whose houses were wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, that wasn't the only devastation they encountered because of the storm.
A man Woodbridge Police say took advantage of residents who were trying to get their lives back together after the destructive October hurricane was arrested over three weeks ago.
Police arrested David Scott Ruddy, 32, of Metuchen on January 26 and charged him with 11 counts of theft by deception and 3 counts of wrongful impersonation. He has ties to East Brunswick, South River, Old Bridge and Metuchen, police said.
Ruddy, police charge, allegedly preyed on people displaced by the hurricane. They said Ruddy visited shelters after the hurricane and pretended to be a representative of different agencies to gain the trust of the victims and allegedly took $50,000 in deposits and payments.
So far, 11 different victims have come forward with complaints that they've been had.
The organizations Ruddy allegedly said he was employed by in the ruse include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He also claimed, at various times, to be an investigator with the NJ Attorney General's Office, a Red Cross volunteer, an employee of the Fugitive Recovery Agency, a bail bonds agent, and a police officer.
After gaining the victims' trust, police said Ruddy would offer to sell them apartments, condos, or houses at a very low price. He'd take a deposit and have the anxious buyers meet him at an office he rented on Rahway Avenue, where he'd take deposits and never deliver the goods.
He also worked a similar scam, police said, with automobiles. He said he had connection to police sale auctions and could get them good vehicles at cheap prices. Police say Ruddy allegedly took full payment for the non-existant vehicles and never delivered.
Ruddy, who also goes by the aliases of David Castro and David Gartman, is wanted by police in Georgia for allegedly operating similar disaster-related scams.
Ruddy is being held without bail at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Facility in North Brunswick.
Police are expecting more victims to come forward. Anyone with information or who has been targeted by a scam, should call Det. Santiago Tapia of the Woodbridge Police at (732) 602-7394.