A Metuchen man has been sentenced to five years in state prison today for preying on Superstorm Sandy victims by promising them low-cost housing or cars but instead stealing their money, defrauding them and others of approximately $55,000, state authorities announced.
David Scott Ruddy, 33, who pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by deception in October, visited shelters in Middlesex County following Superstorm Sandy, impersonating a Red Cross worker, law enforcement officer, or an employee of the Attorney General’s office, authorities said.
After gaining the trust of his victims, Ruddy offered to rent or sell them low-cost housing that he claimed he owned or controlled as well as cars he claimed to have purchased at police auctions, authorities said. After he collected payments from victims, he did not deliver on his promises, authorities added.
Ruddy stole approximately $55,000 from 13 victims, including seven who needed housing or a car following Sandy, and five who needed the same for other reasons, authorities said. He ultimately stole amounts from his victims that ranged from about $1,000 to $9,000, authorities added.
The sentencing judge ordered Ruddy to pay restitution to all of his victims.
“Ruddy’s actions in defrauding homeless storm victims were utterly despicable,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “He gained the trust of his victims by posing as a rescue worker, only to steal their money and leave them in an even more desperate state. This prison sentence serves as a warning to any other predators who would consider exploiting disaster victims.”